A SECRET 1924 WAR COLLEGE REPORT TITLED, "THE USE OF THE NEGRO MAN IN WAR" concluded: “Blacks [are] unfit for leadership roles and incapable of aviation.” One senior Army commander had no hesitation in saying outright what the War College report was claiming in private. “The Negro type has not the proper reflexes to make a first-class fighter pilot,” he proclaimed.
On April 3, 1939, President Roosevelt approved Public Law 18, that provided for an expansion of the Army Air Corps. One section of the law offered hope for those African Americans who wanted to advance their military careers beyond the motor pool and the kitchen. It provided for the training of Black pilots, which critics hoped would prove a disaster.
On January 16th, 1941, the War Department announced the creation of the 99th Pursuit Squadron. This was to be an all Black flying unit trained at the Tuskegee Institute in Tuskegee, Alabama. It was called the Tuskegee Airmen Experiment.
In many ways the Tuskegee Airmen program was designed for failure ... putting the Tuskegee Airmen through training more rigorous than that of their white counterparts, with faulty supplies, and with facilities so disgusting, these Black officers would not succeed. You know that "Separate But Equal" phenomenon.
During those days of racism, and military segregation, The Tuskegee Airmen successfully fought three wars during World War II: one against our enemies overseas, one against racism within the American military, and one against racism here at home. Many historians of the Civil Rights Movement consider the actions of the Tuskegee Airmen to have been a crucial factor in the eventual full integration of the armed forces, and to have had continuing influence in subsequent civil disobedience efforts to integrate such public facilities in the South as lunch counters and schools. The Tuskegee Airmen served ...and served exceptionally well...in spite of White American Racism.
The combat record of the Tuskegee Airmen, speaks for itself:
• more than 15,000 combat sorties
• 111 German airplanes destroyed in the air
• 150 aircraft destroyed on the ground
• 148 aircraft damaged
• 1 destroyer sunk by P-47 machine-gun fire
• 950 railcars, trucks, and other motor vehicles destroyed
• 179 bomber escort missions
• 66 pilots killed in action or accidents
• 32 pilots downed and captured, POWs
• 96 Distinguished Flying Crosses awarded
• 744 Air Medals
• 8 Purple Hearts
• 14 Bronze Stars
NOTE...Over the years, many have thought of the Tuskegee Airmen as being just pilots. Tuskegee Airmen, though, included not only pilots but navigators, bombardiers, maintenance and support staff, instructors . . . and all the personnel who kept the planes in the air, the aircraft mechanics in particular. All of those involved in the so-called “Tuskegee Experiment,” were Tuskegee Airmen.
UNLESS WE TELL IT....
Rodney. L. Hurst, Sr.