Jefferson grew up in Detroit but came south to attend Clark College in Atlanta, graduating in 1942 with a degree in chemistry and biology. He then entered the U. S. Army Reserves and was sent to flight training at the Tuskegee Army Air Field in Tuskegee. He earned his wings on January 7, 1944.
Jefferson flew 18 long-range missions escorting bombers over Europe. He was shot down on August 18, 1944 and held as a German prisoner of war at Stalag Luft III until April 29, 1945. He retired as a Lieutenant Colonel in the U. S. Air Force.
Jefferson's memoir, Red Tail Captured, Red Tail Free, documents his wartime experiences.
- Jefferson, Alexander and Lewis H. Carlson (2005) Red Tail Captured, Red Tail Free: The Memoirs of a Tuskegee Airman and POW. Fordham University Press. ISBN 0823223663
- Booker, Robert J. (November 27, 2007) "A war hero's memories." Knoxville News-Sentinel.