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    Tuskegee Airmen’s legacy continues to inspire Detroit region



    Story by Tech. Sgt. Chelsea Barber 

    127th Wing

    With blue eyes gazing off into the distance, the 95-year old recalled his World War II combat missions like they’d occurred the day before.

    The Tuskegee Airmen, a collective of African-American soldiers who received their advanced military training from the segregated U.S. Army Air Corps’ Advanced Flying School at Tuskegee Army Air Field, Ala., went on to serve in the primarily-African-American 332nd Fighter Group, among other units. Tuskegee P-51 pilots lost only 27 bombers during 179 escort missions during World War II, compared to an average of 46 bombers lost by other P-51 fighter groups during the same period. The 332nd pilot and ground crew training operations began in Alabama but later moved to Selfridge Field in early 1943 and in early 1944, the 477th Bombardment Group stood up its first African-American bomber unit here.

    The story of the excellence of the Tuskegee Airmen has been depicted in movies such as, “The Tuskegee Airmen,” in 1995, and “Red Tails,” in 2012, among many others. When the latter was released, Tuskegee Airmen were invited to the White House by then President Barack Obama for a screening.

    “It’s important for the young generation to know, first of all the history and the past, but mainly, in order to overcome obstacles, you have to be excellent,” said Roscoe Brown, a veteran Army Air Corps captain and also a Tuskegee Airmen present at the White House screening.

    Today, organizations and members of the southeastern Michigan community continue to honor the heritage of the Tuskegee Airmen in different ways. The Detroit Public Schools, for instance, offer high school students a unique curriculum opportunity, providing training leading to a private pilot’s license, among other programs. Davis Aerospace Technical High School, named in honor of Gen. Benjamin O. Davis, Jr., a Tuskegee Airmen, has roots as a civilian training program for veterans returning from WWII service. Detroit is also home to the Tuskegee Airmen National Museum, host to several programs meant to inspire disadvantaged youth with careers in aviation.

    The Tuskegee Airmen’s legacy in southeastern Michigan began when the first air echelon relocated the 332nd Fight Group from Tuskegee Field to Selfridge Field on March 28, 1943. Today, that legacy is not only shared by Selfridge, but with the entire metro-Detroit community. Jefferson hopes these students will carry on the legacy of the Tuskegee Airmen by encouraging young people to strive for excellence, become educated and get involved in their communities.

    “Become involved with the different opportunities in the community, all the way from neighborhood opportunities to military opportunities in the city,” Jefferson said. “We want these young people to understand the opposition the Tuskegee Airmen went through to get to the place we are today.”



    Date Taken: 07.30.2017
    Date Posted: 10.15.2017 15:36
    Story ID: 251761
    Hometown: DETROIT, MI, US

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