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Acknowledgments Because this is an autobiography, I feel compelled to salute not only those persons who urged and encouraged the writing of the book but also those who nurtured and impacted the life about which it has been written. The length of the honor roll of each group humbles me as I realize how blessed I have been with so many fine friends and kinfolk. For starters, of course, my parents: Charles Levy Tucker Dryden ("Brother Rob") who never owned a house or a car but who boasted, proudly, "I invested in my children," and Violet Adina Dryden ("Sister Vie") whose gentle patience tempered Dad's firm discipline. Their abiding faith in God and dedication to educating their three children set me in motion, and my debt to them is incalculable . Likewise my brother Denis Alvin and sister Pauline because of whose presence I learned early on, as big brother, the need to be unselfish and to share and love kinfolk. Kinfolk like my beloved , flower-named aunts who nicknamed their Sister Vie and who helped her raise me: Lilly, Daisy, Myrtle, Hyacinth, and Iris. During thirty-two years of a failed first marriage there were, as in most marriages, good things and bad. Grateful I am to my former wife, Irma Cameron "Pete" Dryden, for at least four good things: our three sons, Charles, Jr. ("Thumper"), Keith, and Eric, and the fourth, her mother, Charlie Pearl Cameron ("Mother Pearl"), my first beloved mother-in-law. Now, praise the Lord, there is Marymal, my wife of twenty years xv xvi at this writing, who has brought into my life the love of flowers, gourmet foods, and fine arts as well as my love for her, her mother Florence (my second beloved mother-in-law), and Marymal's four children-George, Tony, Kenny, and Cornelia-and the pursuit of happiness with all of them. For my spiritual growth several ministers did as much by the example of their lives as by their preachments, for which I must express my gratitude: the Reverends Edler Garnet Hawkins, pastor at Saint Augustine Presbyterian Church, Bronx, New York, and later the first African American to be appointed Moderator (top official) of the United Presbyterian Church in the USA; Joseph Roberts, pastor at Elmwood Presbyterian Church, East Orange, New Jersey, and later senior pastor at Ebenezer Baptist Church, Atlanta , Georgia, where Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., was once the pastor; Joseph Lowery, pastor of Central United Methodist Church in Atlanta and president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC); Cornelius Henderson and Walter Kimbrough, former senior pastors at Ben Hill United Methodist Church, Atlanta . All of these ministers of the gospel provided spiritual balance for the demands of my professional life as a military officer, a warnor. Other persons who affected my career as an aviator number in the hundreds, too numerous to mention here, but at least these demand public acknowledgment for the impact that they exerted on my life: Bill Pyhota, CPT flight instructor; Milton Crenshaw and Charles A. "Chief" Anderson, civilian flight instructors at Tuskegee ; Lieutenant General Benjamin O. Davis, Jr., my squadron commander and, later, group commander; Brigadier General Noel F. Parrish, commander of Tuskegee Army Air Field; Sidney Brooks and Clarence Jamison, aviation cadet classmates and squadron mates in the 99th along with Herbert E. Carter and Spann Watson, and especially James B. Knighten, who saved my life in the skies over Sicily. The other group of steadfast friends, those who added their voices to Marymal's urging me, encouraging me, indeed goading me to write these memoirs, comprises a number of people whose help in getting the job done has been immeasurable, some becauseĀ« Acknowledgments of the sense of urgency that they imparted and facilities they made available to me, others because of the information they provided. First and foremost among the "facilitators" is my mentor and motivator , Maceo Dailey, Ph.D., scholar and professor of history and herstory at Spelman College who encouraged me to write my story utilizing the computer in his office on campus. To ensure that I was diligent in getting the job done he offered me a ride to the college daily until it was completed, which put me in debt to his wife and sons as they squeezed into the family car to make room for me. For their gracious gift of daily rides "to work," and for Dr. Dailey's teaching me the fundamentals of "WordPerfect" on the computer, I am most grateful...


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