This video was made in 2009 at a celebratory event in New York. It was a couple of years after the Tuskegee Airmen were awarded the prestigious Congressional Gold Medal by President George Bush for their service to the nation some 65 years earlier, when they were all young men and caught up in the great struggle that was WWII.
You will meet several of the men who served together in that famous segregated Army Air Corps unit in this video. Each one of those you will meet is clearly proud of his service and even more proud of having had the privilege to serve as pilots and support personnel in the Tuskegee Airmen units: the 332nd Expeditionary Operations Group, who flew P-51 Mustangs, and the 477th Bombardment Group of the United States Army Air Corps.
The three fighter squadrons within the 332nd Expeditionary Operations Group were the 99th, 301st, and 302nd. They became known as the Red Tails, and, when they showed their skills over Italy and southern and eastern Europe, they became the fighter escorts most requested by the bomber pilots on their missions.
The Tuskegee Airmen program was formed at the Tuskegee Institute, a college founded by Booker T. Washington to educate Black men in Tuskegee, Alabama. In 1941, President Roosevelt ordered an airfield to be built at the Tuskegee Institute to train Black soldiers to be pilots and mechanics and other support crews.
Mrs. Roosevelt visited the school in 1942 and actually went up in a plane with one of the Tuskegee pilots, and she was impressed by their skills and their dedication. When she returned to Washington, she was able to convince her husband, the President, and others to use them as a fighting unit.
In a short period of time, there would be a total of 996 pilots and 15,000 support personnel in the units that would arise out of the Tuskegee Airmen program at the Tuskegee Institute. Most of these men were college graduates or in college when they were handpicked to be a part of this new unit. They would be sent into the war and would become one of the most honored and celebrated American fighting units to serve in WWII.
When you see these gentlemen and hear their stories in this video, you will recognize their pride in their service and their shared camaraderie born out of the terrors of war and the unity of purpose they all shared. They not only shared the experiences of war together but the realities of prejudice and segregation that permeated their lives on a daily basis, both in the military and in the civilian sector.
These are proud, confident, successful men. What they did during the war and what they did with their lives after the war is second to none.
The Veterans Site sends its thanks and its deepest respect to all who served as pilots and support troops in the 332nd Expeditionary Operations Group and the 477th Bombardment Group of the Tuskegee Airmen. We honor your history and your unselfish service to the nation. You were true to your motto: Spit Fire!