March 22 – Tuskegee Airmen Day

Posted on March 22, 2018

Today is the anniversary of the 1941 activation of the Tuskegee Airmen - the African American military pilots.

Sad to say that at that point, before the U.S. had actively entered World War II, the armed forces were still racially segregated.

But look what this squadron managed to do:

They flew P-39, P-40, P-47, and P-51 type aircraft.

They flew more than 15 THOUSAND sorties.

They completed more than 1,500 combat missions during the war. 

During the war, they destroyed more than 100 enemy aircraft in the air, destroyed 150 enemy aircraft on the ground, and damaged another 150 enemy aircraft. They destroyed almost 1,000 rail cars, trucks, and other vehicles. They destroyed a destroyer ship and 40 boats and barges.

They completed more than 170 escort sessions and ended up with a much better record of protection than other Air Force groups. (They lost a total of only 27 bombers, compared to an average of 46 lost bombers by other groups.)

They returned home with  more than 850 medals. 

This includes 3 Distinguished Unit Citations, 1 Silver Star, 1 Legion of Merit, 2 Soldier Medals, 8 Purple Hearts, 14 Bronze Stars, 96 Distinguished Flying Crosses, and 744 Air Medals.


In 2007 the Tuskegee Airmen were collectively awarded a Congressional Gold Medal.

The Tuskegee Airmen did an amazing job of serving - and 84 made the "ultimate sacrifice," dying in accidents or combat. But they faced discrimination before that service and, even more tragically, during and after their service.

By the way, black people had to pressure on the military and on government leaders to allow the Tuskegee Airmen program to begin, and then more pressure to actually deploy the trained airmen. One ally was the First Lady, Eleanor Roosevelt, who - also in March of 1941 - inspected the squadron and airfield, asked for a flight with a black pilot, and insisted on photographs being taken so that she could publicize the group and push for their deployment.

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