Tuskegee Airman ‘Boots Battle’ at Christophers Saturday for Book Signing
South County is home to many interesting people, and at least one national treasure: LeRoy A. “Boots” Battle, Sr. Battle, 89, is an original Tuskegee Airman, a recipient of the Congressional Gold Medal, an author, storyteller, teacher and musician.
He will be at Christophers Fine Foods on Saturday (Nov. 10) from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. for a book-signing event.
Battle’s jazz band, “LeRoy Battle and the Altones,” became famous, traveling and playing a regularly on the Tony Kornheiser show on ESPN radio.
On Battle’s website, Kornheiser is quoted,
LeRoy Battle and The Altones have been the house band on my radio show for the last 15 years. I think he has led the most extraordinary life. It is an uniquely American life, and the stories he tells are about an America that most of us will never see again.
Battle won the coveted Philharmonic Scholarship to Julliard School of Music in New York City at age 17. There, he studied with Saul Goodman of the New York Philharmonic. He went on to earn a B.S. at Morgan State and a Masters Degree in music from the University of Maryland, College Park. During the era, he worked with many of the famous jazz musicians in the New York area, including Pearl Bailey and Billie Holiday.
At 22, Battle signed up and became one of the original Tuskegee Airmen. He was a pursuit squadron pilot in the European Theater during World War II. Prior to WWII, blacks were not permitted to become pilots. They earned that right in 1941 and became a segregated unit that trained at Tuskegee, Alabama.
After the war, Battle returned to the Washington area and taught music at Douglass High School in Upper Marlboro. It is during this period that he became an established jazz musician, leading his band “LeRoy Battle and the Altones.” It is also during this time that Battle fought segregation, sending two of his band members to audition for the then-segregated Washington Redskins band.
Later and for 17 years, Battle was a drummer with the Washington Redskins band.
Battle’s band continued to play for decades.
He lives with his wife Alice in Lothian. Battle is the father to two sons, both musicians and a daughter, a physician and educator.
Christophers Fine Foods is located at 5570 Shady Side Road. For more information visit Christophers Fine Foods online.