Weldon K. Groves

Major Weldon K. Groves was commander of the weather unit at Dreux in the late fifties and early sixties.

From the Seattle Times:





Major Weldon K Groves



Weldon Groves died a few days short of his 91st birthday. Weldon K. Groves had an interest in medical science. He also had a fascination with flight and a pioneering spirit. After attending the University of Kansas and earning a biology degree in 1940 from Sam Houston College in Huntsville, Texas, Mr. Groves embarked on military duty and was accepted into one of the first groups of the famed Tuskegee Airmen, the segregated Army Air Corps squadron that trained at Alabama's Tuskegee Army Airfield in the early 1940s to become America's first black aviators during World War II. Some Tuskegee historians have credited him with shooting down one enemy aircraft during 93 combat missions, flying P-39s, P-47s and P-51s with the 302nd Fighter Squadron in Italy. After the war ended, he commanded military weather detachments, then held a civilian post at McChord Air Force Base, south of Tacoma. Mr. Groves, who retired from active duty in 1964 as a major and later was promoted to the rank of lieutenant colonel, died May 12 in a Tacoma assisted-living facility, a few days short of his 91st birthday. He will be buried with full military honors at 1:45 p.m. Friday at Tahoma National Cemetery in Kent, the final resting place of many of this nation's war veterans and heroes. According to a cemetery official, Mr. Groves is the first veteran of the Tuskegee Airmen to be buried at Tahoma. Mr. Groves was a longtime resident of Lakewood, Pierce County. According to historians, he was believed to be one of the last known World War II Tuskegee Airmen to train as a weather officer. He cross-trained in weather in 1949 after his unit, the 332nd Fighter Group, was deactivated. Born in Edwardsville, Kan., he completed his basic pilot training at Tuskegee Army Air Force Base in 1943,


Weldon's Class at Tuskegee -
Weldon kneeling at right end of first row

and was commissioned a second lieutenant. He entered combat service the next year, said his son, Weldon Groves Jr. of Tacoma. "He was planning to become a doctor, but when he got the opportunity, he chose [pilot training] and he decided to stay with that," said his son. After completing instructor pilot training at Tuskegee after the war, he became an advanced instructor pilot, flight commander and chief instrument examiner. "He was one of the most outstanding individuals you ever wanted to meet," said Edward Drummond Jr., of Lakewood, who was in the last Tuskegee Airmen class in 1946. Mr. Groves was Drummond's flight commander at Lockbourne Air Base in Columbus, Ohio, in 1948, and the two remained friends over the years. "He was like a role model and a brother to me," said Drummond. Mr. Groves was a founding member of the local chapter of Tuskegee Airmen. Besides Friday's military graveside service, a memorial service will be held on Saturday at a Jehovah's Witnesses Kingdom Hall, 6722 S. Yakima Ave., Tacoma. His wife of 57 years, Ophelia, died in 2002. In addition to his eldest son, Mr. Groves is survived by a daughter, Winnifred Groves Mann, of Mukilteo; twin sons Wesley Groves, of Baltimore, and Leslie Groves, of Lynnwood; seven grandchildren; and eight great-grandchildren. Also surviving are a sister, Joyce Hoard, of Kansas City, Mo.; and two brothers, Edward Groves, of Edwardsville, and Wesley Groves, of Los Angeles. Charles E. Brown: 206-464-2206 or [email protected] Weldon K. Groves Born: May 22, 1917, Edwardsville, Kansas. Married: Ophelia Leora Madison, circa 1945. Died: May 12, 2008, Tacoma, Washington. Weldon K. Groves was born May 22, 1917, in Edwardsville, Kansas, to Walter P. and Alice A. Groves. He was the grandson of Junius and Matilda Groves, successful farmers who established a community near Edwardsville. Groves attended the University of Kansas and earned a degree in biology in 1940 from Sam Houston College, Huntsville, Texas. He had planned to become a doctor, but decided to join the military on October 21, 1942, and was accepted into an early group of the famed Tuskegee Airmen, the segregated Army Air Corps squadron. He graduated as a second lieutenant from pilot training on June 30, 1943. In 93 combat missions in the European Theater he flew P-39, P-47, and P-51 aircraft. Groves shot down a ME-109 in Italy on July 18, 1944, while flying with the 302nd Fighter Squadron. He served as an advanced instructor pilot and chief instrument examiner. In 1948 he served as a flight commander at Lockbourne Air Base in Columbus, Ohio. In 1949 Groves cross-trained in weather and commanded military weather detachments. He held a civilian post at McChord Air Force Base, in Pierce County, Washington. Groves retired from active duty on April 30, 1964, at the rank of major and later was promoted to the rank of lieutenant colonel. He lived in Lakewood, Pierce County, Washington, and was a founding member of the local chapter of Tuskegee Airmen. He and his wife had three sons and one daughter. He died May 12, 2008, and was buried at Tahoma National Cemetery, Kent, Washington.