Pioneering aviator Willa Beatrice Brown Coffey served her country by training pilots for the U.S. Army Air Forces. She was the first black woman to receive a commission as a lieutenant in the U.S. Civil Air Patrol.
Coffey was a founding member of the National Airmen’s Association of America, an organization that lobbied Congress for the racial integration of the US Army Air Corps. Her efforts were responsible for Congress’ creation of the Tuskegee Airmen, which eventually led to the integration of the U.S. military service in 1948. Coffey’s husband, Cornelius R. Coffey, was also a pilot who became one of the Tuskegee Airmen.