60 individual placements
and 3,156,000 impressions
Tuskegee Airman Lt. Col. Charles W. “A-Train” Dryden Has Taken His Final Flight
ATLANTA (June 26, 2008). Lieutenant Colonel Charles W. Dryden (USAF-Retired) passed from this life on Tuesday, June 24, 2008 after a brief illness. He was approaching his 88th birthday this coming September; and Chuck and his bride of 32 years, Marymal Morgan Dryden, never stopped living life to its fullest.
Funeral services celebrating the life of Lt. Col. Dryden will be held on Tuesday, July 1, 2008 at Cascade United Methodist Church, 3144 Cascade Road, SW; Atlanta, GA 30311. He will lie in state from 9:00 to 10:30 a.m.; services are scheduled from 11:00 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. He will be eulogized by The Reverend Andrew Young, former Mayor of Atlanta and former Ambassador to the United Nations.
Charles Walter Dryden was born on September 16, 1920, in New York City to Jamaican parents, Charles Levy Tucker Dryden and Violet Buckley Dryden. In his book, A-Train: Memoirs of a Tuskegee Airman, Dryden recalls, “Air’pwane! Air’pwane!” is how this two-year-old, tearing paper into bits and throwing them into the air, told the world that he wanted to fly airplanes.” And after many a trial and tribulation, flying airplanes is what Chuck Dryden did. He lived out his dream. And then he lived to write about it. After his book was published, he realized a renaissance in his career and enjoyed the celebrity which his stellar career afforded him.
Following graduation from Peter Stuyvesant High School in New York City Dryden earned a BA in Political Science from Hofstra University. He later earned an MA in Public Law and Government from Columbia University. However, one of the highlights of his career came in 1996 he was awarded an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters by Hofstra University.
In August 1941 Dryden was selected for Aviation Cadet training at the Tuskegee Army Flying School in Alabama. He was commissioned on April 29, 1942 as a Second Lieutenant in a class of only three graduates, which was the second class of black pilots to graduate in the history of the U.S. Army Air Corps. He was a member of the famed 99th Pursuit Squadron, later the 332 Fighter Group, which served in North Africa, Sicily and Italy during World War II. On June 9, 1943, then Lieutenant Charles Dryden, in his P-40 nicknamed “A-Train," led a flight of six pilots engaging enemy fighter aircraft in aerial combat over Pantelleria, Sicily. It was the first time in aviation history that black American pilots of the U.S. Army Air Corps engaged aircraft in combat.
Colonel Dryden's 21-year military career also included combat missions in Korea and duty assignments in Japan, Germany and ten different bases in the United States. He also served as a Professor of Air Science at Howard University and retired in 1962 as a Command pilot with 4,000 hours flying time.
A member of the board of directors of the Georgia Aviation Hall of Fame, he is also a member of the Atlanta Metro Lions Club, Quality Living Services (a Senior Citizens organization) and the Atlanta Chapter-Tuskegee Airmen, Inc. (ACTAI), which he helped found in 1978 and which he served as president, vice president (twice), and national convention committee chairman in 1980 and 1995.
He has been inducted into the Honorable Orders of the Daedalians, the Kentucky Colonels and the Palmetto Gentlemen of South Carolina. In 1997 Lt. Col. Dryden was also designated an “Outstanding Georgia Citizen” by the Secretary of State Max Cleland; and in 1998 he was inducted into the Georgia Aviation Hall of Fame. President Bush conferred the Congressional Gold Medal on Lt. Col. Dryden and all Tuskegee Airmen at a ceremony in the Capitol Rotunda in March, 2007.
His autobiography has been published by the University of Alabama Press in 1997 [A-Train: Memoirs of a Tuskegee Airman].
He was an active member of the First Congregational Church; and until his waning health began to slow him down a little, he was often a speaker to youth and college students encouraging them to seek careers in military and civilian aviation.
Colonel Dryden has three sons by a former marriage – Charles Walter Dryden, Jr. of Maui, Hawaii; Keith Cameron Dryden of Orlando; and Eric B. Dryden of Atlanta. He helped his wife to guide and support the lives of her four children – George Bingham, Anthony Bingham, Kenneth Bingham and Cornelia-Rose White, all of Atlanta. They have five grandchildren. He is also survived by his sister, Pauline Miles from Denver, CO. and a host of relatives and friends.
The family of Lt. Col. Dryden has launched the A-Train Legacy Foundation to further Dryden’s dedication toward the development and support of aviation career programs and aviation education for young people. This non-profit organization [501(C)(3)] will accept contributions to provide grants and scholarships for young men and women entering the field of aviation and aerospace. For further information, contact Eric Dryden at firstname.lastname@example.org or 770-726-7953.