Ralph Orduna of the Tuskeegee Airmen


Ralph Orduna of the Tuskeegee Airmen


Ralph Orduna was born in Omaha and went to Westside Elementary and South High School. He began working at the Martin Bomber Plant sometime after it opened near Omaha in the Spring of 1941, and became the youngest supervisor at the plant. During World War II, he enlisted in the US Army Air Corps and became a fighter pilot as one of the "Tuskeegee Airmen," the popular name for the African-American pilots of the 332nd Fighter Group and the 477th Bombardment Group in the Army Air Corps. As a member of the Tuskeegee Airmen, Mr. Orduna flew multiple recon and bomber escort missions over enemy territory. He was a member of the first all-black fighter pilot group in the 301 Fighter Squadron of the 15th Air Force's 332 Fighter Group. Following his military service, he studied for a commercial pilot’s license under the GI Bill, but was unable to gain employment, as airlines were not hiring black pilots at the time. Ralph Orduna passed away on May 27, 2003.

This collection was brought to us by Philip Orduna Reis, the son of Ralph Orduna. Phillip is active in the local chapter for Tuskeegee Airmen, and attends national conferences that seek to curate the history of the group. The Omaha chapter is named after Alfonza W. Davis, an Omaha Tech graduate who went on to be a squadron leader as a Tuskeegee Airmen, and was killed in action near the end of the war. This collection was donated at the 2011 North Omaha History Harvest.


Ralph Orduna of the Tuskeegee Airmen, North Omaha History Harvest, 2011


This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

Collection Items

Ralph Orduna Military Portrait
A portrait of fighter pilot Ralph Orduna in uniform.Ralph Orduna was a fighter pilot in World War 2. He earned the rank of 2nd Lieutenant and was part of the "Tuskeegee Airmen". He was part of the 301 Fighter Squadron of the 15th Air Force's 332…

Ralph Orduna Interviewed by Journalist
This photo shows Ralph Orduna being interviewed by a television journalist in Chicago at Midway Airport in 1981. Behind them is a P-51 Mustang fighter jet, the same kind of aircraft Orduna flew in combat during World War II. Mr. Orduna’s son…

Ralph Orduna Given His Wings
This photo shows Ralph Orduna receiving his wings, signifying his completion of flight school. He is pictured here with his sister, Maria, who is pinning his wings, and his father, Enrique. Orduna was part of the 301 Fighter Squadron of the 15th Air…

Ralph Orduna and Colleagues at the Martin Bomber Plant
This is a photo of Ralph Orduna (middle) at Martin Bomber Plant with fellow employees. Mr. Orduna went on to become a supervisor at the plant before enlisting in the US Army Air Corps. Martin Bomber Plant, which opened 1942, produced B-26 and B-29…

Ralph Orduna in Training Plane with Colleagues
This photo shows fighter pilot Ralph Orduna in the cockpit of a training aircraft surrounded by other members of the 332 Fighter Group. Mr. Orduna’s son Philip informs us that he trained other pilots after earning his wings. Orduna was a 2nd…

Tuskeegee Airmen Congressional Gold Medal
This Congressional Gold Medal was presented to Ralph Orduna’s family by Congressman Lee Terry in 2006. The medals were awarded to all members of the Tuskeegee Airmen by the United States Congress, and issued by the United States Mint. The…

Philip Orduna Reis Discusses the Tuskeegee Airmen
Ralph Orduna’s son, Philip Orduna Reis, discussed his father’s life and displayed some artifacts from his time at the Martin Bomber Plant and his service in the US Army Air Corps as a Tuskeegee Airman. You can find this and other…
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