Editor's Note: Bob Thomas of Derby submitted this account of his experiences with discrimination and the U.S. military's attempt to safeguard the rights of blacks in the 1950s. He recorded his memories on paper to mark Black History Month, observed each year in February.
It was January 1954. I had just turned 18 two months before graduating from the B-29 Bomber Maintenance Course at Sheppard Air Force Base in Wichita Falls, Texas. We didn't turn many wrenches in the six-month training course; that would come later during our first and subsequent assignments.