(Part 3 in a series of posts honoring vintage all-black U.S. military basketball teams. Back to Part 2 | Skip to Part 4)

From the annals of World War II come the Bronson Field Bombers, an all-black U.S. Navy basketball team whose players were stationed at Bronson Field Naval Air Training Base in Pensacola, Florida.

During wartime, Bronson Field was used to train dive bombers, fighter pilots, and seaplane crew.

It’s best known as the naval base where baseball Hall of Fame member Ted Williams did his military training.

Like most of the armed forces, Bronson N.A.T.B. had well-organized sports and athletic activities that included a basketball league comprised of teams from other training centers, air fields, and naval stations in the surrounding Pensacola area.

Bronson’s team, known as the Bombers, won the N.A.T.B. basketball championship in early April 1945.

The all-black Bronson Field Bombers, a WWII era basketball team

The Bronson Field Bombers, N.A.T.B. Champions of 1945.
Top (l. to r.): Sp1C E. Woolfolk, Sp2C T. Hunter, S1C C. Miller, Lieut. Ted Sather (Supervisor), SC2C T. Whitfield, SP2C J.T. Peoples (Coach). Center (l.to r.): S2C E. Bookman, S2C M. Seawright, S1C G. Smith, SC3C W. Hale, S1C N. Aikins. Bottom (l. to r.): Y3C C.T. Haley, S2C R. Rhodes, S1C J. Webster.

“The colored cagers established themselves as the hottest team in the circuit during the regular schedule by piling up 11 straight victories after four losses,” reported the Bronson Breeze, the airfield’s official bi-monthly newspaper.

The team learned from its early losses. “Though employing a razzle dazzle style of offensive play,” the Breeze shared, “the colored quintet realized certain defensive weaknesses, ‘ironed them out,’ polished up the offensive and hit the victory trail.”

The same week of the N.A.T.B. basketball championship, U.S. President Roosevelt died in office.  And within a week of the Breeze reporting the N.A.T.B. basketball title winners, German forces surrendered in Europe.

One More Thing: Wartime Opinion About A New President, 1945-Style

I mentioned that President Roosevelt had died during the week of the naval air basketball championships.  So by the time the Bronson Field Bombers were announced as champions, the United States had a new president, namely, Harry S. Truman.

How did wartime Americans feel about the country’s new leader?

This editorial, which appeared in the same issue of The Breeze, seems to say it all:

We have a new Commander-in-Chief.

As members of the Navy, we owe the full measure of unqualified allegiance to the Commander-in-Chief of the nation’s armed forces.

As citizens of a democracy waging a war, we owe our generous and open-minded support to a man who has been thrust by destiny into a position of perhaps the heaviest burdens in the world today.

Most of us know little about our new president.  We do know that as Commander-in-Chief he will turn in full confidence to the nation’s professional military and naval command for the military conduct of the war, precisely as did President Roosevelt.

As President and Command-in-Chief, Mr. Truman regards himself as an instrument of the people.  For us, as members of the armed forces and citizens, this seems sufficient assurance that we need feel nothing but confidence concerning our new president.

Look, I didn’t make this up.  You can’t make up stuff like this.

Anyway, I don’t know about you but to me that sentiment seems to make as much sense today as it did then.  Maybe more.