General James graduated from the Tuskegee Institute in 1942 where he received a bachelor of science degree in physical education. He continued civilian pilot training under the government-sponsored Civilian Pilot Training Program. He remained at Tuskegee as a civilian instructor pilot in the Army Air Corps Aviation Cadet Program until January 1943, when he entered the program as a cadet and received his commission as a second lieutenant later that July. Throughout the remainder of the war James trained pilots for the all-black 99th Pursuit Squadron. He did not see combat until the Korean War.
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