The Tuskegee Air­men

Church host­ing cel­e­brated black avi­a­tion pi­o­neers

The Covington News - - Newton @ Play - By Jenny Thompson

Good Hope Bap­tist Church will host the At­lanta Chap­ter of the Tuskegee Air­men as part of its Black His­tory Month cel­e­bra­tion from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. Feb. 16.

“The At­lanta chap­ter will present the his­tory of the Tuskegee Air­men, plus their per­sonal ex­pe­ri­ences prior to and dur­ingWorld War II to our New­ton County com­mu­nity,” said co-or­ga­nizer Jac­que­lyn McKen­zie, sec­re­tary of GHBC’s pas­tor’s aide com­mit­tee.

Ac­cord­ing to the Tuskegee Univer­sity Web site, the Tuskegee Air­men were the first black mil­i­tary avi­a­tors in the United States.

The U.S. Army Air Corps con­tracted Tuskegee Univer­sity in Tuskegee, Ala., to train black pi­lots for com­bat in World War II, and from 1940 to 1946 around 1,000 pi­lots were trained there.

The all-black 332nd Fighter Group con­sisted of the 99th, 100th, 301st and 302nd fighter squadrons. The men were awarded sev­eral mil­i­tary hon­ors, in­clud­ing three Pres­i­den­tial Unit Ci­ta­tions for tac­ti­cal air sup­port and ae­rial com­bat in 1943 and 1944 and for a bomber es­cort to Ber­lin in 1945.

The valor of the 332nd is of­ten cred­ited with fa­cil­i­tat­ing the pas­sage of the 1948 Ex­ec­u­tive Or­der No. 9981 which di­rected equal­ity of treat­ment and op­por­tu­nity in the U.S. armed forces and even­tu­ally led to racial in­te­gra­tion of the U.S. mil­i­tary.

At the GHBC pro­gram, mem­bers of the At­lanta Chap­ter will present a short DVD and an­swer ques­tions as well as make shirts, books and other mem­o­ra­bilia avail­able for sale.

“This is a free event,” McKen­zie said, “and the com­mu­nity is in­vited to this awe-in­spir­ing liv­ing his­tory af­fair.”

For more in­for­ma­tion about the GHBC pro­gram, call (770) 787-4928. To learn more about the Tuskegee Air­men, visit www. tuskegee.edu or www.tuskegee. org.

Li­brary of Congress

On a wing and a prayer:

A group of Tuskegee air­men pose for the cam­era on the Tuskegee Army Air Field in Tuskegee, Ala.

U.S. Air­force Mu­seum

Fighter planes: Tuskegee Air­men pilot P-51 Mus­tangs above the clouds dur­ing Wworld War II.

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