Hardin County

Lt. Joseph P. Gomer





D. M. Flier Weds

Lt. Joseph Gomer pictured above in the dark shirt.

Two of the first three Iowa Negroes to be commissioned as pilots in the army air forces attended the wedding reception of one of their number Saturday night at the U.S.O. center, 1333 Keosauqua Way.

They were Second Lieutenants Luther Smith, 22, son of Mr. and Mrs. Luther Smith, 901 Twenty-third st., and Joseph P. Gomber, 23, son of Mrs. P. J. Gomber, Iowa Falls, Ia.
Commissioned. These two and Second Lieutenant Maurice Esters, 22, of Webster City, Ia., were commissioned and received their pilot wings May 28, at Tuskegee army air field, Tuskegee, Ala.

Also present at the reception honoring Lieutenant Smith and his bride, the former Susie Butts, 19, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Clyde Butts, 1404 Buchanan st., was Oscar L. Glass, 26, of Des Moines.

Glass, son of Mr. and Mrs. O. L. Glass of 1517 Second ave., is now a cadet at the Tuskegee air field.

Wear Medal.
All wear the expert aerial gunner medal.

Lieutenant Smith and his bride were married earlier in the evening by the Rev. E. M. Whaley, pastor of the Burns Methodist church, at the home of the bride.

The two met when Lieutenant Smith was taking the civilian pilot training course at the airport a year and a half ago.

“Grease Ball.”
Luther’s ambition to be a pilot dates back to his being the youngest “grease ball” at the airport when he was thirteen.

The Flier is en route to Ascoda air field in Michigan where he is to be stationed.

An older brother, Guy, is a special officer of the army intelligence in overseas service.

Source: The Des Moines Register, June 28, 1943 (Wedding Group photo included)

Pilot of All-Negro Group Visits Home

Iowa Falls -- Lt. Joseph Gomer is spending a leave with his wife, and mother, Mrs. P.J. Gomer. He has just returned from Italy, where he was stationed with the 15th Air Force.

He is pilot of a fighter plane, and is credited with 68 missions over enemy territory. He was a member of an all-Negro group.

After his leave he will report to Santa Monica, Cal., for rest and reassignment. His wife will accompany him to the west coast.

Source: Mason City Globe-Gazette, February 8, 1945

Iowa’s Tuskegee Airmen
Twelve of the African-Americans to train in the 1940s at the segregated training facility in Tuskegee, Ala., were originally from Iowa.  Those men were: William V. Bibb, James E. Bowman, Russell L. Collins, Maurice V. Esters, Joseph P. Gomer, Robert L. Martin, George R. Miller, Clarence A. Oliphant, Robert M. Parkey, Luther H. Smith, Thurman E. Spriggs, and Robert W. Williams.

Joseph P. Gomer
Gomer was born in Iowa Falls in 1920.  In 1938, Gomer graduated from high school first in his class.  After enlisting in the Army in 1942, he was one of the first four Iowans to be sent to Tuskegee, Alabama. He was a second lieutenant in the 332nd Fighter Group and flew 68 combat missions. He became the first black Iowan to be an officer in the U.S. Air Force. 

Source: The DesMoines Register, Feb. 29, 2016