David Toliver, Sr.

David Toliver, Sr. was born April 6, 1942 in Bellevue, Louisiana. He graduated from Booker T. Washington High School, Shreveport, Louisiana, in 1959. He subsequently enrolled at Tuskegee Institute (now University) where in 1965 he earned a Bachelor of Science Degree in Electronics Technology as well as Air Force ROTC Distinguished Military Graduate.


Mr. Toliver was commissioned 2nd Lieutenant in the United Stated Air Force where he served honorably for 11 years as a Satellite Project Officer, Missile Combat Crew Commander, Space Sensor Surveillance Officer and Officer-in-Charge of Evaluation and Standardization-Strategic Operations. He received a Masters of Business Administration Degree from the University of North Dakota in 1974. After leaving the Air Force as a Captain, Mr. Toliver worked eight years for Corning Glass Works; a Fortune 500 Company in Corning, New York. He held the positions of Production Supervisor, Electrical Division; Technical Marketing Analyst, Optical Products; Senior Sales Representative, Electronic Materials; and Supervisor, Production Planning-Steuben Ornamental Glass. Mr. Toliver later joined the Army and Air Force Exchange Services in 1987 and performed in various management positions before retiring in 2003.


Mr. Toliver is a Life Member of the Tuskegee Airmen, Inc. (TAI): www.tuskegeeairmen.org; a Founding Member of the Archer-Ragsdale Arizona Chapter/TAI and is the Chapter President.


Mr. Toliver is currently serving on the Governor’s Arizona Veterans’ Services Advisory Commission and is on the Board of Directors of the Orpheus Male Chorus of Phoenix.  Mr. Toliver and his wife, Valetta, reside in Goodyear Arizona.


William Ronald (Bill) Norwood

William Ronald (Bill) Norwood was born in Centralia, Illinois. He attended Lincoln Elementary and Centralia Township High Schools. Bill graduated from Southern Illinois University at Carbondale in 1959 with a degree in chemistry. He was also quarterback of the football team being the first Black in that position. Bill received his MBA from the University of Chicago in 1974 with an emphasis in International Labor Relations.


Bill served in the United States Air Force from 1959-1965, flying primarily the B-52. He joined United Airlines in 1965 where he flew all cockpit positions and many different airplanes. In February, 1996, having reach the mandatory retirement age of 60, Bill retired from United as a DC-10 Captain after an outstanding and exemplary 31 year career.


Bill is a former member of the SIU Board of Trustees having served in that capacity for 27 years (1974-2001). He is a member of the Airline Pilots Association and is active with The Organization of Black Airline Pilots (OBAP), where he has served multi-terms as treasurer, president, and chairman of the Board. In honor of his achievements in aviation and education, and his thirty-one years of dedicated service to United Airlines, on February 6, 1996, his name was painted on a United Airlines aircraft (B-727) at Chicago’s Museum of Science and Industry.


Bill continues to be active in the community. He was co-organizer and an instructor for the Southern Illinois Flight Academy, a basic flight training camp for young people in the Carbondale area (2003-2006). Bill is a member of the Archer-Ragsdale Arizona Chapter, Tuskegee Airmen, Inc. and he currently spends time mentoring, tutoring, visiting schools, and giving motivational and career talks. He is active in his church – First United Methodist Carbondale. He enjoys tennis, hunting, fishing, flying radio control airplanes, and is an avid golfer.

Bill and his wife Molly, a 1961 SIUC graduate, are life members of the SIU Alumni Association and the NAACP. Bill and his family have established two scholarships for SIUC students, and an endowment at the Southern Illinois University Public Policy Institute has been established in Bill and Molly Norwood’s name. 

Larry (Jet) Jackson Captain, Southwest Airlines Retired

Larry Jackson was born in Augusta, Arkansas and raised in Chicago, ILL.  He holds a Bachelor’s degree from Northrop University and earned a second bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree from the University of Southern California (USC).  As an undergraduate at USC, he was awarded the John Priest Memorial Award for his work with youth in South Central Los Angeles.  Larry participated in the Air Force Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) at USC.  After, USC, he entered the Air Force Undergraduate Pilot Training (UPT) program at Vance Air Force Base (AFB), where he was a Distinguished Graduate.  In 1974, Larry Jackson was assigned to George AFB, CA to fly the F-4 Phantom.  After George AFB, he was assigned to several Pacific Theater Bases flying the Phantom.  From 1979-1983, he flew at Williams AFB, AZ.  In 1980 Larry was selected to attend the Fighter Weapons Instructor Course.  As a Top Graduate in his Fighter School Class, Larry stayed on as the Chief of Academic.  In 1983 Larry was assigned to fly the F-15 Eagle at Holloman AFB, NM where he served as Flight Commander and Assistant Operations Officer.  In 1987 he was assigned to Headquarters Pacific Air Forces Requirements Division, as the Chief of Special Access Required programs.  He was promoted to Lieutenant Colonel in 1989 and returned to fly the F-15 at Luke AFB, AZ in 1990.  He served as Operations Officer of the 555 Fighter Squadron (Triple Nickel) until his retirement in 1993.  Caption Jackson was hired as a pilot by Southwest Airlines June 1993 and upgraded to Captain in 1998.  He is a former Chairman of the Board of Directors for the Organization of Black Airlines Pilots.  Recently retired from Southwest Airlines, Larry Jackson continues to be involved with aviation programs for youth nationwide.

Col (Ret.) Richard Toliver

Colonel Richard Toliver is a 26-year veteran of the United States Air Force. He is a “Top Gun” fighter pilot who flew 446 combat missions in Southeast Asia. Later he directed the testing and evaluation of several major weapon systems for the Department of Defense and allied military programs. He also held key roles in advanced research, development, and testing of tactical fighter aircraft. He completed graduate work at the University of Northern Colorado and Troy State University, Alabama, and received a Master of Arts degree in Procurement Management from Webster University, Missouri in 1982. His military education includes Squadron Officer School, Air Command and Staff College, National Security Management School, and the Tactical Air Command Fighter Weapons Instructor School (Top Gun).


Colonel Richard Toliver was born October 30, 1938 in Bellevue, Louisiana and graduated from Booker T. Washington High School, Shreveport, Louisiana in 1957. In January 1963, he graduated from Tuskegee Institute (University) with a Bachelor of Science degree in Mechanical Engineering. He was taught and mentored by such original Tuskegee Airmen as Colonels William A. “Wild Bill” Campbell, Hubert L. “Hooks” Jones, and Lawrence “Larry” Roberts. Thus, he and his peers proudly consider themselves “Second Generation” Tuskegee Airmen.


Colonel Toliver entered active duty in February 1963 as a Project Engineer, Air Force Systems Command, Eglin Air Force Base, Florida. He completed pilot training at Craig Air Force Base, Alabama in June, 1965. He finished F-4 Phantom qualification training in November 1965, at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Arizona. Colonel Toliver is one of the first five African American F-4 pilots to serve under the famed Tuskegee Airman, General Daniel "Chappie" James, USAF.


Colonel Toliver returned from his second combat tour in Southeast Asia in 1973. He was assigned to Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada and became an Operational Test Pilot for Tactical Fighter Weapons Systems. In 1974, he was selected as one of the first pilots to test the F-15A Eagle at Luke Air Force Base, Arizona.

olonel Toliver served throughout the United States, Southeast Asia, Europe, North Africa, and the Persian Gulf. He commanded a number of units and held key staff positions in major commands of the Air Force. He is a Command Pilot with 4,000 flying hours (860 in combat) in the F-4, F-15, F-16, OT-37, O-2, T-33, and several civilian aircraft. His military decorations include the Legion of Merit, Distinguished Flying Cross, Meritorious Service Medal with two Oak Leaf Clusters, Air Medal with 27 Oak Leaf Clusters, Air Force Commendation Medal, Air Force Outstanding Unit Award with V and two Oak Leaf Clusters, Combat Readiness Ribbon with one Oak Leaf Cluster, National Defense Service Medal, Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal, Vietnam Service Medal, RVN Gallantry Cross with Palm, Republic of Vietnam Campaign, and Longevity and Marksman Ribbons. Colonel Toliver retired from the United States Air Force March 1, 1989 after 26 years of distinguished service.

Since leaving the Air Force, Colonel Toliver pursued several business and economic development ventures. Most recently, Colonel served as Vice President, Business Development for EMT, Inc., a small Black-owned business in Huntsville, AL. He developed and executed a $2.6 million dollar program to recruit minorities for an AFROTC scholarship and follow-on pilot training.

Colonel Toliver has been married for over 43 years to the former Margaret A. Hairston of Baltimore, Maryland. The Tolivers have seven adult children, four of which are adopted, eight grandchildren, and two great grandchildren. The Tolivers are especially proud of their family’s legacy of military service. Somewhere in the world, a family member has served continuously and honorably since World War II. 

Lt Col (Ret.) Robert “Bob” Ashby

Robert Ashby, a Tuskegee airman and first black captain for Frontier Airlines was born in Yemassee, South Carolina on July 17, 1926. After his father passed away, Bob and his mother Lillian Ashby, moved to Jersey City, New Jersey, along with his brother James and sister, Elizabeth. As a student in high school, Bob began to investigate pilot training after hearing of the experiences of black pilots in the 99th. Bob enlisted in the Army Air Corps at age seventeen as a candidate for the Aviation Cadet program. He was called to active duty in August 1944 after graduating from Ferris High School in Jersey City, N.J. Later, Bob received college training with the University of Maryland and U.C.L.A through the ‘on base’ College Program.


Bob was assigned to Keesler Field, Mississippi for basic training and testing for entry into the Aviation Cadet program. In December 1944 Ashby was sent to Tuskegee, Alabama to begin cadet raining. As a cadet he flew the Stearman PT-17, AT-6, and the B-25. Ashby graduated as a Second Lieutenant with the Tuskegee Class of 45-H on November 20, 1945.


Ashby was assigned to Japan as a part of the U.S. occupying force. On his arrival in Japan, Ashby found he was assigned to two white flying outfits, neither of which would accept him in their unit because he was black and the Army was segregated. Second Lieutenant Ashby was removed from pilot status and assigned to a black company in the Quartermaster Department in Tokyo, Japan. In May 1949, Ashby was assigned to the black unit at Lockbourne Air Field, Ohio where he was reinstated to flying status. President Harry S. Truman integrated the armed forces, and Ashby was assigned to Wright Patterson AFB in August 1949 for a short tour. Later, he was assigned to a Reserve Troop Carrier Wing at Cleveland Municipal Airport. Here he trained in the T-6 and C-46 aircraft. In 1952, Ashby flew B-26’s for a year of combat in Korea while stationed at K-8. In 1956, in England, Ashby flew the T-33, B-45 and B-66. He trained in the B-47 aircraft and became a B-47 instructor. Reaching the status of Lieutenant Colonel, Robert Ashby retired honorably from the U.S. Air Force in July 1965, after 21 years of fighting racial problems as well as the enemies of America.


COMMERCIAL AVIATION EXPERIENCE- Robert “Bob” Ashby started his commercial aviation career in 1965 with United Airlines as one of their flight operations instructors. He taught in the classroom the airplane simulator for the 727 aircraft. In 1968, Ashby helped to write the training program for the 747 aircraft. His group wrote the curriculum, formulated the objectives, wrote the manuals and instructed the crews in the classroom subjects, simulator and aircraft skills. In1973, Ashby was employed by Frontier Airlines as a pilot, flying as a second officer, first officer, and then as captain. He was the first black pilot hired by Frontier Airlines. He flew various aircraft with Frontier, including the Tin Otter, Convair 580, Boeing 737, and MD-80. Robert Ashby leaves an outstanding record of precision, quality, courtesy and safety with Frontier Airlines with over 20,000 flying hours. In addition, he is the first black pilot to reach mandatory retirement age (60 years) with a major airline. Bob Ashby retired on July 17, 1986 while flying as Captain of the Boeing 737.

Speakers Bureau

Lt Col Nathaniel “Nate” L. Carr

Dr. Nathaniel L. Carr was born and raised in Detroit, Michigan and traveled throughout the world in the US Air Force. Currently, he owns and operates Aunt Clara’s Healthy Tea and Carr International (an internet business development company) while researching and writing on emotional intelligence.


Lt Col Carr earned a BS from Michigan State University; MBA from Golden Gate University; Doctorate of Management from University of Phoenix and is currently 15 hours in to the Masters of Accounting program at University of West Florida.


Lt Col Carr joined the military in 1967 as an Airman Basic working as an F-102 and F-4D avionics maintainer. As a Staff Sergeant he earned his commission to the Officer Corps. He served as Intelligence Squadron Commander (150 people), Operations Officer, Safety Officer, Requirements/Contracts Officer, Director, and Fighter Aviation Officer. He has flown F-15E, F-4G, and F-105G aircraft. He was the co-author of “Reassessment of War-fighting Capability” consistent with the U. S. Defense Department objectives and strategies for the entire Pacific region. He developed operational guidelines to handle the shoot down of KAL 007 by the Soviet military and later developed the electronic combat and integration plan for Desert Storm. Lt Col Carr revived $2 billion Joint STARS (Surveillance & Target Attack Radar System) program on an international basis and it is being used in the current terrorist conflict and Iraq. He served as the Requirements Director for space-borne and electronic defense system contracts and led satellite driven intelligence network for fighter aircraft from design through demonstration. He was the chief negotiator for USAF with the Japan and Korea combat training program. His father, Nathaniel Carr, Sr., is a retired Air Force Colonel and original Tuskegee Airman from WWII.


Since leaving the military, Lt Col Carr has pursued several business avenues. He was the Customer Service Manager for AT&T, managing and training 25 customer service representatives and was the Team Leader for crises phone calls (i.e. suicide threats). Additionally, he was the Marketing Manager for ACME Aerospace and worked 4 years as Manager for Customer Service at Sea Ray Boats, Inc. of Phoenix. He is currently a certified instructor for the Department of Homeland Security and the Transportation Security Administration training airport baggage screeners on explosive detection and customer service.


He and his covenant wife, Kai, an RN, have three children - Nathaniel (Attorney), Jayson (Physical Therapist and Chef), and Kristen (ASU graduate completing second bachelors degree in Nursing) – and two grandsons - Tyler (5-yrs old) and Jackson (3-yr old).

Mr. Bernard (Ben) Bruce

Mr. Bernard Bruce is the Occupational Safety and Health Manager for the 56th Fighter Wing, Luke Air Force Base (AFB), in Phoenix, AZ. Responsible for managing the Occupational Safety and Health Programs for over 11,000 personnel and 186 Fighter Jet Aircraft assigned, making Luke AFB the largest Fighter Base in the World. Mr. Bruce uses his expertise to plan, develop and implement safety programs for the Wing Commander, the 40 unit functional managers and their safety representatives. The objective is to reduce and eliminate personal injuries, property damage and fatalities.


Mr. Bruce was born in Wilmington, Delaware and after high school, he entered the Air Force and went to Basic Training at Lackland AFB, TX. He went on to serve over 26 years on active duty. His military assignment included overseas tours in the Republic of Vietnam, Thailand, Greece, Korea, Germany, Okinawa, England and Saudi Arabia. He has been assigned to state side bases in Nevada, North Dakota, Mississippi, Texas, New Mexico and Arizona. His military career included Air Traffic Controller, Military Training Instructor, Radio Announcer, Disc Jockey and Safety Manager. Major awards include four Meritorious Service Medals, three Force Commendation Medals, The Vietnam Cross of Gallantry and the NATO Medal. Mr. Bruce retired from the Air Force as a Senior Master Sergeant in 1995.

As a civilian safety professional, Mr. Bruce worked as a Hospital Safety Manager and was promoted to Safety Manager for the 56th Fighter Wing in March 2003. His interests include the study of Afro-American History, and he works with the local police and fire departments to help raise awareness in child safety issues. .Mr. Bruce has a Air Control Degree from the Community College of the Air Force and completed his professional training at the University of Washington with a degree in Occupational Safety and Health. He has attended over 40 professional, leadership, business and safety courses. A highly acclaimed speaker, master trainer and consultant in the field of Air Force safety Programs. .He has developed and implemented training programs for the Air Force since 1980. He has earned a number of Air Force Awards including the Safety Manager Of The Year three times.

Mr. Bruce is married to Arlene, also of Wilmington, and they have four children; son TSgt David Bruce, currently assigned to Misawa AB, Japan; daughters: Kelly Bruce, a Social Worker in the United Kingdom; Angelique Bruce, a 2nd Lt. at Luke; and Bianca, a tudent at Concordia University in California.

Lt Col (Ret.) Asa Herring

Asa Herring, a Tuskegee Airman and retired USAF Fighter Pilot, was born in Dunn, NC October 3, 1926. He has been an avid aviation enthusiast all of his life. He graduated from High School at age sixteen. While a student at Tuskegee Institute in the Aircraft Maintenance program, he passed the U.S. Army Air Corps Aviation Cadet written examination. Because he was only seventeen years old, he had to wait until he was eighteen before he could be inducted.


Asa entered active duty December 27, 1944 as aviation cadet. He flew the Stearman PT-17 and AT-6. He was approximately three months short of graduation when it was apparent that WW II was in its final stages. Germany had surrendered and the “Tuskegee Experiment” was one of many flying schools that were soon to be eliminated. Flying was continued but was drastically curtailed. All of the cadets who had volunteered (not draftees) were given the option of accepting an honorable discharge. Partly because of the segregated policies in the military and the desire to further his education, Asa chose to separate from the military.


Asa graduated from several top-notch technical schools-Tuskegee Institute, AL; Aeronautical University in Chicago, IL; and Lewis College of Science and Technology in Lockport, IL. Although he received his credentials from the Civil Aeronautics Administration as a certified Aircraft and Engine Mechanic and Aircraft Ground Instructor in 1959, he was still unable to obtain employment with an airline or fixed base operator. By this time, the Air Force had become a separate branch of the military, and President Harry S. Truman’s executive order#9981 banned segregation in the military. Stuck on the “horns of a dilemma”, Asa again volunteered for military service in June 1949 and remained on active duty until June 1970 when he retired at the rank of Lieutenant Colonel.


During his 22 years of military service, Asa served in England, Korea, Germany, Vietnam, and other temporary assignments worldwide. He was the first Black Squadron Commander at Luke AFB where he trained pilots in the F-104 G Advanced Jet Fighter Gunnery Program. He was officially appointed an honorary Command Pilot in the German Luftwaffe.


Asa has flown the PT-17, AT-6, 01E&F, F-51D, T-33, F-86A, F-84F, F-100C,D,F,&G; and F-104G. He flew 350 combat missions in Vietnam. His decorations include the Distinguished Flying Cross, Bronze Star, and Air Medal with 13 Oak Leaf Clusters.

Asa retired from the Air Force in 1970 and joined the Western-Electric Co (Manufacturing branch of AT&T). There he served in several management positions including Personnel, Quality Assurance, Manufacturing Operations, Benefits Administration, and others. He retired from AT&T in December 1989.

Asa has a BA degree from Ottawa University, KS in Business Administration/Business Management. His civic activities include former member of Phoenix Union High School Vocational Advisory Board; Opportunities Industrialization Center (OIC)/Prevocational Advisory Board; Board of Directors, Phoenix Business Development Center; Chairman of the General Merchandise Concessions Committee (Module III), Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport; Chairman. City of Phoenix Municipal Aeronautics Board; City of Phoenix Community Development Block Grant Committee.