Punta Gorda Chamber Guide 2022

Punta Gorda Chamber Guide 2022

2022 Members and Visitors Guide for the Punta Gorda Area

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Page 98 of 143

2022 Punta Gorda Chamber of Commerce Members & Visitors Guide Page 99 Their oldest, Maurice, born in May 1906, enlisted in the Army shortly after his 36th birthday. He was a driver for the Red Ball Express, a pri- marily African-American unit tasked with supplying front- line troops in the European Theater during World War II. He also served during the Korean War, making the army his career. Maurice retired as a staff sergeant and is interred at Arlington National Cemetery. Berlin, born in November 1912, enlisted just before his 30th birthday. He served as an Electrician's Mate 1st Class with the Navy's 3rd Construction Battalion (Seabees) in the Pacific Theatre during World War II. Upon discharge, he returned home and became a well-known electrician and serving for several years on Punta Gorda's Planning Commission. Charles, born in November 1918, enlisted shortly before his 24th birthday. He'd attend- ed Bethune-Cookman College for two years on a football scholarship. School founder Mary McLeod Bethune, instru- mental in convincing Franklin D. Roosevelt to establish a flight school for African- American pilots, arranged for his transfer to Alabama's Tuskegee Institute where he enlisted in the Army Air Corps. Second Lieutenant Bailey, the first African-American armed forces pilot from Florida, earned his wings in April 1943. He then joined the 99th Fighter Squadron, better known as the "Red Tail Squadron," due to the planes' color scheme, as part of the allied invasion of North Africa. After the war, he returned to Bethune-Cookman and earned a degree in elementary edu- cation, remaining in Volusia County to teach school. Harding was born in October 1920 and enlisted in the Navy shortly before his 22nd birthday. He served as an Electrician's Mate 2nd Class aboard a destroyer escort, the USS Mason. The Mason was the Navy's first ship with a pre- dominantly African-American crew during World War II and served in the Atlantic Theater. After his discharge, Harding earned a degree in education from Bethune-Cookman, teaching and becoming a school principal in Florida's Brevard County. Paul, born in September 1922, joined the Army in March 1943. PFC Bailey was a chaplain's assistant with Company D, 2805th Engineering Battalion in the Pacific Theatre. After his discharge, he also attended Bethune-Cookman College earning a degree in music, then graduated from the Boston Conservancy of Music. Paul became a high school music teacher in north Florida's Madison County. Arthur was born in March 1925. In February 1945, he be- gan his service with the Marine Corps. Cpl. Bailey served with the 2nd Casual Company, Headquarter Battalion in the Pacific Theater. In the Marine Corps, a "casual company" is where men and women are placed awaiting permanent assignment or discharge. The youngest son, Carl, was born in September 1929. Too young to follow his brothers into World War II, he joined the Air Force in June 1951 and flew F-84 Thunderjets. First Lieutenant Bailey was one of only two African-American fighter pilots from Florida during the Korean War, but saw no combat duty. Tragically he died in an automobile acci- dent, only 28 years old. The "Fighting Bailey Brothers" answered their country's call and have been memorialized by having the passenger terminal at the Punta Gorda Airport named in their honor and a city park at the corner of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard and East Virginia Avenue. Five of the brothers are interred at the Lt. Carl Bailey Cemetery. Sun file photo Lorene Bailey (center), widow of Berlin Bailey, one of the seven Bailey Brothers, attends a ribbon-cutting ceremony at the Bailey Brothers park in 2015.

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