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Eugene Bullard with Fellow Pilots in Training.

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The Eugene Bullard Society International was created in 2018 to help publicize and honor a Georgia native who rose from the Jim Crow south to become a celebrated hero of the first World War.

My name is Mark Henderson. I am the founder of the Eugene Bullard Society International. I have always been interested in history, especially military history. It was on a trip to Columbus, Georgia in 2003 and a tour of the Army Museum at Ft. Benning that I first became aware of Eugene Bullard.

In a glass showcase on the third floor of the museum was a framed 8x10 photo of Eugene Bullard in an unfamiliar uniform with the caption of his name and “First Black Fighter Pilot”.

When I returned home, I began to research Eugene Bullard. I was amazed at his accomplishments and that I had never heard of him in all my research and readings of American history.

Since that time, I have read the four little known books written about Eugene Bullard, a Georgia native, a descendent of slaves and a true American hero. Twice seriously wounded in battle in the trenches during World War I as a volunteer in the French Foreign Legion, Bullard went on to become the world’s first black fighter pilot. After flight training, he joined the Lafayette Flying Corps and flew many combat missions against Germany’s Baron Von Richthofen and the ‘Flying Circus.’

After the war, Bullard began managing jazz bands at cabarets in Paris. He married Marcell, daughter of Countess de Pochinot in 1923 and had 2 daughters. Eventually, he opened his own nightclub in Montmartre. The Le Grand Duc which became the late night place to be seen in Paris. Regulars included Noel Coward, Ernest Hemingway and F. Scott Fitzgerald from the literary set and many movie stars, jazz age luminaries, and other notables.

At the beginning of World War II, he helped the French resistance working as a spy at his cabaret. He relayed information he overheard from German customers’ conversations. Bullard had to flee the Germans in July 1940 by escaping South to Spain and to Lisbon. He arrived in New York on July 17, 1940. He was debriefed by the FBI and lived in New York City until his death.

Eugene Bullard lead a life of great courage and immense determination, yet he is not well known today. It is the mission of the Eugene Bullard Society International. to expand the knowledge of Bullard. Although Bullard is honored with a small display at the US Air Force Museum in Dayton, Ohio and a bust at the Air and Space Museum in Washington, DC and with displays at other locations few young people searching for heroes are exposed to Bullard or his achievements. The Society’s passion is to promote the character and qualities of Bullard to this generation.

The Eugene Bullard Society International is dedicated to raising funds through gifts and grants and has created an exciting website about Eugene Bullard where visitors are be able to gain access to books and plays written about Bullard. Further, the Eugene Bullard Society plans to create an email newsletter to be delivered to members of the Society six times a year.

Our first objective is to provide Bullard’s biography to every school library in America, beginning with the state of Georgia and moving on to include all 50 states.

Concurrently, we will be planning to work with the NEA on Black History Month educational activities as well as other community events where appropriate.

Future plans call for creating and installing Eugene Bullard informational displays at appropriate high traffic locations where visitors can learn about this unique American hero. When funds permit, the Society will develop a volunteer regional speaker’s bureau consisting of enthusiastic presenters. Equipped with audio visual materials these presenters will be available for junior high, high school, college and business club appearances to introduce Eugene Bullard, and familiarize the different audiences with his life story.

It is our goal that Bullard’s life will act as a role model, especially for young men. His story may help them learn from the incredible obstacles and prejudice that Bullard overcame as a black man. Throughout his life Bullard’s accomplishments were conducted with grace, elegance and dignity.

Finally, it is the goal of the Eugene Bullard Society International to create a scholarship fund to assist young people entering college preparing to receive a BS degree with a major in Aviation/Aerospace. These college graduates would be a credit to themselves and the legacy of Eugene Bullard.

The Eugene Bullard Society International is incorporated with the state of Georgia, Secretary of States Office, and is approved by the IRS to receive tax deductible bequests, devices, transfers or gifts under Section 2055, 2106, 2522 (EIN-37-1879182 May 17, 2018). All gifts to help honor and promote Eugene Bullard are tax deductible.

Sincerely yours,

Mark Henderson

Founder & CEO

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