Biographies of Local Legends

A.A. “Sammy” Rayner: A Legacy of Bravery and Community

By July 8, 2024 No Comments

Lieutenant Ahmed A. “Sammy” Rayner Jr. was born in Chicago in 1918. His father, Ahmed Sr., was a mortician with degrees from Prairie View A&M University, Worsham College of Mortuary Science, and, later, John Marshall Law School. Rayner led an active life in high school as a member of the track team, ice skating team, and served as president of the Sign Painters Club and treasurer of the Civil Industrial Club.

Rayner received his wings in March 1944 and married Geraldine Chambers a few days later in Cairo, Illinois. He then received B-25 flight training at Mather Field in California. In May 1944, he joined the 616th Bombardment Squadron at Godman Field, Kentucky (located at Fort Knox). The squadron was part of the 477th Bombardment Group, the first and only bombardment group with Black aviators.

The above is excerpted from “The Daily Life of the Tuskegee Airmen: The Lieutenant Rayner Collection, by Elizabeth Borja, accessed July 2, 2024.

Read the full story, here, in the Smithsonian Archives

Listen to Studs Terkel Interviewing Tuskegee Airmen Ralph Orduna, Sammy Rayner, Col. Bill Thompson, and Judge John W. Rogers

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