Col. Kenneth Wofford defined the word hero. Born in 1922 in Wagoner, Okla. he moved to Carthage at the age of five and called it home for the next 46 years.
He became a Tuskegee Airman graduating in 1945. The Airmen were comprised of nearly 1,000 pilots and 10,000 more people working as mechanics, nurses, and support personnel. “The Tuskegee Airmen were an entirely Black group of highly trained people who had been shunned by the white military establishment, as they were thought to lack the capability to fly, and to show they were cowards in combat and could not use the technology” quoting Col. Wofford who also added “Initially the Tuskegee School was an aviation experiment that was set up to prove we would fail.” Their motto was “Aim High” and they certainly did. The 99th Fighter Squadron, of which Col. Wofford was a member, won not one but two Presidential Unit Citations for their support. Eleven of them shot down enemy fighters in the Mediterranean Theater for the first Unit Award, and they earned the second Citation for downing thirty two German aircraft, with the 99th claiming 13 of those. In 2007 Colonel Wofford, along with 349 other Tuskegee Airmen or their widows, received the Congressional Gold Medal.
In flying 15,000 missions only 25 planes were lost. Col. Wofford had planned to become a doctor, but when he accompanied a friend who wanted take the aviation test, he was also handed one and he scored very high. He spent 32 years in the service as a military pilot. He then went to the Minnesota Department of Transportation and headed the Aeronautics Office, where he lectured youth about finishing school, and the importance of studying technology. He mentored Boy Scouts; he was an R.O.T.C. program advisor, an Air Guard Museum docent, a Civil Air Patrol educator, the education advocate of the Air Force Association, and an inductee into Minnesota’s Aviation Hall of fame in 1999.
He stressed education and had a keen desire to learn which he inherited from his parents and his grandmother, talking about what avid readers his parents were. He did this despite the segregation obstacles. He had married Carthage native Willetta (Brinker) and she survives him along with a son, Kenneth O. Wofford Jr.
He was the epitome of a Hero and deserved to be nominated and chosen for this Hall Of Carthage Heroes.
He was a heck of a Squadron Commander.