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Missing Redtail

James Alonza Walker was the only African-American pilot rescued during the Halyard mission. He flew in the famous 332 Fighter Group, called "Redtails" for the paint scheme on their aircraft.

On July 22nd, his group flew escort for bombers on a Ploesti mission. While crossing the Danube near Negotin, his plane was hit by anti-aircraft artillery and caught fire. James immediately turned back, but only managed to reach the Morava river where he bailed out near the city of Stalać. On the ground he was met civilians who brought him to Chetniks forces.

He spent three weeks in the vicinity of Ražanj. On August 11th, he went north to Varvarin, where he was joined by a bomber crew. They continued together to Pranjani, from where they were evacuated on August 28th. 

Being the only African-American, he was easily recognized. He spent some time with a family of then 13 year old Radoljub Janković. James learned some of the words in Serbian and communicated with the locals. He also helped villagers with the field work. Before his departure, he gave his boots (a valuable gift at the time), to a Radoljub - an event which has been portrayed on an icon found in the Pranjani church, which depicts the Halyard mission.


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