III Corps, 1st Air Cav hold Black History Month observance

1st Air Cavalry Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division Public Affairs
Story by Sgt. Christopher Calvert

Date: 02.25.2014
Posted: 02.25.2014 17:03
News ID: 121151
III Corps, 1st Air Cav hold Black History Month observance

FORT HOOD, Texas – With Black History Month in full swing, units at Fort Hood held an observance to honor and celebrate the contributions made by African-Americans to our nation.<br /> <br /> III Corps and the 1st Air Cavalry Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division’s equal opportunity offices hosted the “Strength through Equality” Black History Month observance here at Club Hood Feb. 21.<br /> <br /> During the ceremony, there were performances by the “Spur of the Moment” 1st Cav. Div. Jazz Band, recitations of former slave narratives by the Viva Les Arts Theatre, and a speech from Carlyle Walton, the president and CEO of Metroplex Adventist Hospital in Killeen, Texas. <br /> <br /> The event also featured a guest appearance from retired Lt. Col. Granville Coggs, one of an estimated 50 remaining Tuskegee Airmen – the first all African-American pursuit squadron based in Tuskegee, Ala.<br /> <br /> “Being here during this significant occasion is a great feeling,” Coggs said. “I have no words profound enough to describe the pride I feel in being one of the last Tuskegee Airmen left and having the opportunity to come to an event like this and share my story – our story.”<br /> <br /> Tuskegee Airmen refers to all who were involved in the “Tuskegee Experiment,” a program developed by the Army Air Corps in 1941 to train African-American soldiers to fly and maintain combat aircraft, including pilots, navigators, bombardiers, maintenance and support staff, and instructors.<br /> <br /> Before then, African-Americans were barred from flying for the U.S. military. Subject to racial discrimination, the 996 pilots and more than 15,000 ground personnel who served with the all-black units would be credited with 15,500 combat sorties and earn more than 150 Distinguished Flying Crosses for their efforts during World War II.<br /> <br /> The highly publicized successes of the Tuskegee Airmen helped pave the way for the eventual integration of the U.S. Armed Forces under President Truman in 1948.<br /> <br /> “I’m proud of everything my fellow soldiers did for our country,” Coggs said. “I’m just as proud of the soldiers still protecting our nation today. I’m honored and humbled to be a part of history.”<br /> <br /> Sgt. 1st Class Christine Meredith, an equal opportunity noncommissioned officer with Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 1st Air Cav. Bde., organized the event seeking to make a lasting impact on troops and civilians.<br /> <br /> “This ceremony was meant to be informative and educational to all cultures,” said Meredith, a Jacksonville, Fla., native. “Observances like this aren’t just held for a certain race. It’s important for everybody to hear the history of our fellow brothers-in-arms, as well as the trials and tribulations they overcame.”<br /> <br /> With many young Troops in attendance, the event helped to educate soldiers who may not have fully understood the magnitude of adversity African-Americans faced, as well as the contributions they have made to the nation, said Meredith.<br /> <br /> “Our young soldiers in attendance got a first-hand look at the history of African-American soldiers within our ranks,” Meredith said. “The event was successful, as the attendees seemed engaged and inspired. I think they’ll have a better appreciation for what this culture had to endure to get here, and they’ll understand how it ultimately has an effect on everyone.”