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THE TUSKEGEE AIRMEN

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In celebrating Black History Month, there are a number of African Americans who are so deserving of praise for helping make this a great country to live in. My childhood days of learning Black history brings back memories of  people like Harriet Tubman and the Underground Railroad, George Washington Carver and his 300 uses for peanuts (the official snack of Southwest Airlines), and Martin Luther King Jr. and Rosa Parks for their brave efforts during the Civil Rights Movement. I'm so thankful for learning about these great African Americans. I later learned that a civil rights movement took place back in 1941 during WWII, when a group of young African American men fought to become fighter pilots in the United States Army Air Corps. These young men are now known as the Tuskegee Airmen. Those who were qualified were accepted into the aviation cadet training, where they became pilots, navigators, bombardiers, and some were trained to become aircraft mechanics. I didn't learn the true history of the Tuskegee Airmen until I was 25 years old, but now I am blessed to be part of the Tuskegee Airmen organization for three years running. I currently hold the title of Vice President of the local, Claude R. Platte D/FW Tuskegee Airmen Chapter. For their great achievements during WWII, the Tuskegee Airmen in 2006 were awarded with the Congressional Gold Medal, and they are the largest group to ever receive that honor. They will be receiving the medal at a ceremony in Washington D.C. sometime this year. For many years Southwest Airlines has been a tremendous supporter of Tuskegee Airmen Inc. Southwest Airlines is also a major sponsor for the Tuskegee Airmen National Convention which will be held in the Dallas/Ft. Worth area in August of this year. Let's do our part to spread the history of these great War Heroes because our children, no matter what race, color, or creed, should not have to wait until their mid-twenties to learn of the Tuskegee Airmen and how they changed a nation. Remember, it's not only Black History... it's American History.
9 Comments
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Thanks for sharing.. I have been studying the civil war and the lead up to the Civil war. The struggles that many descent americans faced was beyond words. I hope that this Country can continue to look past the color of someone's skin, or someones religious beliefs and unite under one flag.. USS BLOG BOY FRANCISCO
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Gordon, Thank you for sharing this very moving tribute to a very deserving group of people. Being a bit of a history buff in addition to being a military enthusiast (secondary to my SWA enthusiasm, of course!), I am familiar with both the contributions of the Tuskegee Airmen and the enforced obscurity that they had thrown over their efforts. I am proud that, as Paul Harvey says, "the rest of the story" is coming out now, because those gentlemen served with honor and distinction. I share a bit of your regret regarding learning about things well after the fact. My father was a member of a top secret army group during World War II, and even after the war and his discharge, the members were sworn to secrecy. He died never revealing a thing to me about that portion of his European service, but in 1996, 50 years after the unit was formally disbanded, their story was revealed and one of the men in his team contacted me. Now, several books have been written about what they did and how valuable it was to the war effort. Like the Tuskegee Airmen, many of my Dad's peers did not live long enough to receive the public recognition that they deserved. I applaud you for working to keep their memory alive! Kim Landlubber Blog Boy 🙂
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Gordorn, I'm so proud of you and think it is important that you continue to push the Tuskegee Airmen forward, not just during Black History Month. I'm working a Civil Rights project right now and I'll figure out how to get the Tuskegee Airmen involved too. I've been working on a feature story with Keith Beauchamp the director/producer of "The Untold Story of Emmett Louis Till." I'd like to find a way to get the Emmett Till case into the Texas/National Curriculum. I'll use my contacts to see what kind of presence the Tuskegee Airmen have in the history books. I know how passionate you are about the Tuskegee Airmen, and I'd love to work with you in getting them represented in the Texas and National classrooms. Sincerely, Tammie Nolte www.tillappeal.blogspot.com (work in progress)
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Gordon, My father, Clarence Dart,Lt.Col.(Ret.) is an original member of the Tuskegee Airmen. His class was 43J. Finally on March 29, he along with many of his fellow Tuskegee Airmen will be honored with the Congessional Gold Medal. Over the past few years, during Black History Month, my father has spoken at many of the area schools in the Capital District here in New York State, Syracuse University, and many Civic Organizations. This year however, due to some recent health issues, he had to decline many invitations. So for me this ceremony could not have come at a better time. Even with all the obstacles my father faced, he managed to stay very humble about his accomplishments. I did not realize what he had done until my father went to the first reunion of the Tuskegee Airmen when I was 16. Since then, I, along with several of my family members attended the Tuskegee Airmen Convention in Washington,DC, in 1998. I got to meet several of my father's friends and learn even more. Unfortunately, at least two of my father's good friends have passed since then and for that I am saddened that they will not get a chance to particpate in this most prestigious honor. Along with my mother, 6 sisters, 1 brother, in-laws, and 7neices and nephews, I will proudly be standing by my father as he and his fellow Tuskegee Airmen are honored. Sincerely, Denise
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Hello, I found your research interesting. With all of your knowlege about the subject, I thought you might be able to offer to the world, a definition of Tuskegee Airmen. I thought that I knew, because in grew up in the presence of at least one. Many of my so called "uncles" were also graduates of the flight school in Tuskegee. But since the Congressional Gold Medal ordeal, it appears that the definition of the term has changed. Perhaps you could shed some light in my direction because I am truly confused and frankly disgusted. Somehow individuals who were in anyway associated with the "tuskegee experience" are able to claim the same recognition as those who actually graduated from the flight school and flew the planes during the war. On the one hand, the TA's were honored by the idea of being awarded such a medal. On the other hand, it is like they won the lottery by having 6 numbers, but the individuals with 5, 4, 3, 2 and 1 numbers get to share the prize money equally. They have in effect, watered down, or minimized the meaning of this award. Sure, the plight of the mechanics, administrators, ground crews, and the like must have been dificult. But..... did what they accomplished rise to the level of receiving a Congressional Gold Medal, a medal that has only been awarded 300 times in our nations history. This makes a mockery of the entire system. Even individuals that didn't have any ties to that era have been able to get into the ceremony before many of the remaining "real" Tuskegee Airmen. I hope they ask the "Real Tuskegee Airmen" to stand up during the ceremony. The other people present should be ashamed of themselves for taking up space that should have been reserved for the heroes that laid their lives on the line in those planes. There were in my opinion, only 992 "original Tuskegee Airmen" To claim otherwise is to discount the struggle, plight and achievements of the gentlemen who proudly belong to that elite group. Correct me if I am wrong.
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In the last year, Protown has championed and produced a significant amount of work, including Black Men Can Fly (BMCF) Ã
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I agree with Kristine's comment. I am extremely privileged to be a part of the rich heritage my grandfather has left. He is one of the "original" Tuskegee Airmen." He flew 15 combat missions in P-51 Mustangs over Europe during the war as a pilot with the 100th Fighter Squadron, 332nd Fighter Group, which protected Allied bombers. As a granddaughter, who is more than proud of her grandfather and thrilled that these men are finally receiving the honor due them, I am baffled at the number of "so-called" airmen that have come out of the woodwork. What is the glory in receiving recognition for an achievement that you did not make? Beats me!
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Stefani, Your grandfather is a true American hero! All of our service men who faced combat in World War II faced arduous times that none of us who follow can truly understand, but your grandfather and the other Tuskegee Airmen faced another trial just because of the color of their skin! We owe them so much! Brian
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If anyone is interested, WQED (the PBS station in Pittsburgh) has produced a documentary called "Fly Boys: Western Pennsylvania's Tuskegee Airmen." While it will air in Pittsburgh on February 7 at 8pm on WQED, it will also be streamed live on the Internet to a worldwide audience. You can log on to www.wqed.org on Thursday, February 7 at 8 pm to watch. It's free. Below is the news release about the program: WQEDÃ