The Chappie James Museum is hosting its annual General Daniel “Chappie” James Fundraiser event in February. This year’s event marks the celebration of what would be the four-star general’s 100th birthday.
“We’re going to celebrate his birthday and commemorate him and his achievements in the community,” said Goreatha Simmons, a museum board member. “It’s just to commemorate his life as an American hero.”
Gen. Chappie James was born in Pensacola in 1920 and went on to a prestigious career in the U.S. Air Force, becoming the first African-American four-star general in the Air Force. During World War II, James served as a flight instructor, helping to train other African American pilots in the 99th Pursuit Squadron. Over the course of his career, James received numerous honors, including the Distinguished Service Medal for his service flying combat missions in the Korean War, as well as the George Washington Freedom Foundation Medal in both 1967 and 1968. The retired general passed away in 1978.
The Chappie Museum is located in James’ childhood home, at 1608 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Drive in Pensacola. This same site also served as a place where African-American students received tutoring services from James’ mother.
Simmons said that since opening the museum three years ago, interest and traffic has steadily increased.
“We get a lot of foot traffic through here,” she said. “So many people we’re having two tours a day.”
The annual fundraiser for the museum helps fund the facility. Tickets for the semi-formal event may be purchased in person at the museum for $65, or by calling (850)542-4721.
The third annual Chappie James Museum Fundraiser, celebrating its namesake’s 100th birthday, will be held Feb. 9, from 2 to 7 p.m. at the Sanders Beach-Corinne Jones Resource Center, 913 S. I Street in Pensacola. For more information on the fundraiser, or the museum itself, visit chappiejamesmuseum.org.