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The Tuskegee legacy.

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They fought in World War II against the Axis nations and against discrimination.

The Tuskegee Airmen who served their country were not wanted by the Army Air Corps, simply because they were African-Americans. It took congressional legislation and President Roosevelt overruling his top generals for these men to have the right to enlist, but their training and service were segregated nonetheless.

Between 1942 and 1946, Tuskegee Army Air Field trained 994 pilots. Half of them served overseas in the 99th Pursuit Squadron and the 332nd Fighter Group. Those who served at home were part of the 477th Medium Bombardment Group. Their nickname, the Red Tails, came from the signature look of their planes.

What overshadows their history as dedicated servicemen is the racism they endured while courageously defending--and often giving their lives for--the very liberties denied to them. They were not allowed to practice or fight with the rest of the military, even though death, injury and imprisonment at enemy hands knew no discrimination at all.

On March 29, 2007, in "a gesture to help atone for all the unreturned salutes and unforgivable indignities," President Bush awarded the Tuskegee Airmen the Congressional Gold Medal.

Fewer than 140 pilots and 550 support personnel are still alive according to the Tuskegee Airmen, Inc. That group was officially formed in 1978, although its roots date back to the earliest days after the war. Their present-day mission is to introduce young Americans of all races to aviation and science through their Young Eagles and TAI Youth programs, award deserving individuals and ROTC cadets Tuskegee Airmen National Scholarships and honor and preserve the history of African-Americans who served in the Army Air Corps during World War II.

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Publication:DAV Magazine
Article Type:Brief article
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jan 1, 2008
Words:284
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