Friday, January 20, 2012

Smiling Heroes: Tuskegee Airmen Finally Get Their Due

"Red Tails", the high flying action packed production on the Tuskegee Airmen by George Lucas, opened in theaters nationwide on January 20, 2012. Their heroics is a tribute to diversity, teaching us that courage has no boundaries. Honoring the noble legacy of these great American's is my blog originally posted on March 30, 2007:

The honor is well-deserved but long overdue. More than fifty years after they helped defeat Hitler and the Nazis in World War II, the Tuskegee Airmen, a group of African American young men who received pilot wings and commissions between 1942 and 1946, were awarded the Congressional Gold Medal yesterday at a White House Ceremony.

At a time when these men could not eat, be educated, ride the bus, or use the same restrooms as white men, they chose to bravely serve America. In the face of danger abroad and prejudice at home, they fought to defend liberty though they had not yet fully achieved it for themselves.

As I see the grateful smiles on the faces of these champions of freedom, I am convinced that they are the most honorable and deserving of the word hero.

[Reprinted from]

The Tuskegee Airmen were dedicated, determined young men who enlisted to become America's first black military airmen, at a time when there were many people who thought that black men lacked intelligence, skill, courage and patriotism. They came from every section of the country, with large numbers coming from New York City, Washington, Los Angeles, Chicago, Philadelphia and Detroit. Each one possessed a strong personal desire to serve the United States of America at the best of his ability.

The black airmen who became single-engine or multi-engine pilots were trained at Tuskegee Army Air Field (TAAF) in Tuskegee Alabama. The first aviation cadet class began in July 1941 and completed training nine months later in March 1942. Thirteen started in the first class. Five successfully completed the training, one of them being Captain Benjamin O. Davis, Jr., a West Point Academy graduate. The other four were commissioned second lieutenants, and all five received Army Air Corps silver pilot wings.

From 1942 through 1946, nine hundred and ninety-four pilots graduated at TAAF, receiving commissions and pilot wings. Black navigators, bombardiers and gunnery crews were trained at selected military bases elsewhere in the United States. Mechanics were trained at Chanute Air Base in Rantoul, Illinois until facilities were in place in 1942 at TAAF.

The outstanding record of black airmen in World War II was accomplished by men whose names will forever live in hallowed memory. Each one accepted the challenge, proudly displayed his skill and determination while suppressing internal rage from humiliation and indignation caused by frequent experiences of racism and bigotry, at home and overseas. These airmen fought two wars - one against a military force overseas and the other against racism at home and abroad.


The White House Congressional Medal of Honor Ceremony Click here to visit site
Tuskegee Airmen, Inc. Click here to visit site

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