In 1941, Roger “Bill” Terry attended UCLA on an athletic scholarship. He played basketball and was the roommate of Jackie Robinson. Together, they made history.
Teammates and Trailblazers
Terry and Robinson were the first two blacks to play basketball in the Pacific Coast Conference. Robinson was also the leading scorer in the Southern Division of the Pacific Coast Conference for two years (1940, 1941).
After graduating college, Terry earned his pilot wings at Tuskegee (Feb.1, 1945) and was commissioned a 2nd Lieutenant. Assigned to the all-black, 477th Bombardment Group, he and members of his group were later transferred to Freeman Field in Seymour, Indiana.
Jackie Robinson would also make history (April 15, 1947) by becoming the first black player in Major League Baseball in the modern era.
However, two years earlier than his former college roommate, Terry had also left a historical imprint.
The Freeman Field Mutiny
In April 1945, while stationed at Freeman Field, he and more than 100 other black officers, were placed under “house arrest.” They [had] refused to comply with an [illegal] newly-implemented order, designating the “segregation” of officers’ club(s). Today, the incident (a/k/a “The Freeman Field Mutiny”) is regarded as having significantly impacted President Harry Truman’s decision, leading to the “Integration” of the U. S. Armed Services.
I got to meet Mr. Terry at a Tuskegee Airmen Convention. He died in 2009, at age 87.
From Zellie Rainey Orr
Historian and Author of Heroes in War- Heroes at Home: First Top Guns.