James, First Black Air Guard Director, Dies at 72

Washington Report

(August 8, 2017) The first African-American director of the Air National Guard has died. Retired Lt. Gen. Daniel James III passed away one week ago from heart failure.

James was in charge of the Air Guard from 2002 until he retired in June 2006. His tenure followed nearly seven years as the adjutant general of Texas.

James was the son of Gen. Daniel “Chappie” James Jr., the Air Force’s first African-American four-star general who learned to fly at the famous Tuskegee Institute.


James was commissioned in 1968. He logged more than 500 combat hours in 1969 and 1970 flying as a forward air controller in the O-1E Bird Dog aircraft in Vietnam.

He returned to Southeast Asia in 1974 and 1975 as a squadron assistant flight commander at an Air Force base in Thailand where he flew the F-4 Phantom fighter. In December 1994, he became the operations group commander of the Texas Air Guard’s 149th Fighter Wing.

Promoted to lieutenant general in 2002, he was nominated by President George W. Bush to be the Air Guard director.

He is survived by his wife, Dana, and son, Daniel. A funeral service will be held Aug. 23 at Shiloh Baptist Church in Washington, D.C. Burial details will be announced later.