Tuskegee Airmen to share ‘the Experience’
The Tuskegee Airmen were dedicated young men who enlisted in the U.S. Army Air Corps to become America’s first black military airmen.
These men came from every part of the country, each with a strong personal desire to serve the United States of America.
President Franklin Roosevelt overruled many of his top generals, allowing the men into an Army Air Corps program that trained blacks to fly and maintain combat aircraft. Many of those generals believed black men did not have the intelligence, courage or patriotism to be successful.
Tuskegee Airmen became a nearly invisible part of World War II, separated by the color of their skin from other Army Air Corps units, while growing to an estimated 16,000 – 19,000 personnel.
Anyone — male or female, military or civilian, black or white — who served at Tuskegee Army Air Field or in any of the programs stemming from the “Tuskegee Experience” between 1941 and 1949 is considered to be a documented original Tuskegee Airman.
During World War II, the Tuskegee Airmen, then known as Red Tails after the color they painted the tails of their planes, overcame barriers to their success.
President Harry S. Truman signed Executive Order No. 9981 to desegregate the U.S. Armed Forces July 26, 1948, officially ending the Tuskegee Experience.
President George W. Bush and Congress awarded the Tuskegee Airmen, collectively, the Congressional Gold Medal in a ceremony inside the Rotunda of the U.S. Capitol March 29, 2007.
The 300 airmen and widows who attended the ceremony received the Congressional Gold Medal for all of the estimated Tuskegee Experience participants: pilots, navigators, bombardiers, nurses, mechanics, engineers and others who were a part of the effort to put black aviators in the air.
Bush offered a sharp salute, which he said was “to help atone for all the unreturned salutes and unforgivable indignities of the past.”
Each recipient received a bronze replica of the Congressional Gold Medal. The actual medal is in the Smithsonian Institute.
Tuskegee Airmen Inc. is a nonprofit national organization existing primarily to motivate and inspire young Americans to become participants in our nation’s society and its democratic process. It also supports young men and women pursuing excellence, paying special attention to those interested in careers in aviation, technology and aerospace.
Tuskegee Airmen Inc. headquarters is in Tuskegee, Ala., where it all began.
There are more than 50 active chapters of the organization in major cities and military installations throughout the United States. Membership is open to all people.
Visit tuskegeeairmen.org/TAI_membership.html to locate a nearby chapter.