Mac Ross (1912-1944) was one of the original five Tuskegee Airmen. The Airmen were America’s first black military pilots and flew in segregated squadrons while defending their county during World War II. Mac Ross was selected for the elite group after being passed over for pilot training several times. Although the family was skeptical of his desire to become a pilot because of the lack of any black role models, his determination to succeed and his desire to fly eventually resulted in his selection. Mr. Ross excelled during his training at the Army Air Corps fighter pilot training school at Tuskegee, being described by one of his instructors as “a pilot’s pilot.” He died in a fighter plane crash during a training mission in Italy at the age of 32. His strong ideals about his family, community and the military make him a positive national role model.–Inducted: 1996 Photograph courtesy of the Ross family. It originally appeared in Dayton’s African American Heritage by Margaret Peters.