Salutes & Awards

October 10, 2013

Law establishes day to honor Tuskegee Airmen

Senior Airman Grace Lee
56th Fighter Wing Public Affairs

LUKE AIR FORCE BASE, Ariz. — He was 17 years old when he became part of an experiment allowing blacks to fly in the Army Air Forces. What he didn’t know then was he would be a part of history.

Retired Lt. Col. Robert Ashby, 87, was one of the original Tuskegee Airmen who served during World War II.

“It was a definite struggle back then,” Ashby said. “Our country was integrated at the time, but our military was segregated. We had separate drinking fountains and dining facilities. Some would say blacks didn’t fly and couldn’t deal with anything complicated, so we were out to prove that we could. What really made us outstanding was everyone within our organization, whether they were cooks, bakers or mechanics, had the same mentality of exceeding.”

Ashby, along with six other Tuskegee Airmen, attended a ceremony Sept. 26 at the Arizona Capitol Museum honoring their service and celebrating a new law establishing the Tuskegee Airmen Commemoration Day in Arizona.

The bill was sponsored by Sen. Al Melvin and signed by Gov. Jan Brewer, designating the fourth Thursday of March as a day to celebrate the men and women who shaped the first black military wing in the Army Air Forces.

“Today is the day to celebrate how far we have come recognizing the people who worked so hard to get us here,” Brewer said. “We celebrate the many battlefield accomplishments of this groundbreaking aviation unit. We celebrate their bigger message about the human spirit, about how, regardless of circumstance, brave and persistent men and women can and will overcome barriers and burdens to show the world what they’re made of.”

What sparked the movement for the Tuskegee flying program was Eleanor Roosevelt, the wife of President Franklin Roosevelt.

“It was when she visited Kennedy Field in Tuskegee and was taken up in an aircraft piloted by Chief Alfred Anderson, America’s first black flight instructor, that she later said to her husband, ‘Franklin, if a colored man is good enough to fly the wife of a president, isn’t he good enough to fly for his country?’” said Ben Bruce, 56th Fighter Wing ground safety manager and Archer-Ragsdale Arizona Chapter historian.

As a result, in March 1941, the Tuskegee flying program began.

From 1942 through 1946, approximately 996 pilots graduated and received their commission and pilot wings. In all, more than 15,000 men and women participated in the “Tuskegee Experience.” More than 400 of the pilots served overseas in either the 99th Pursuit Squadron or the 332nd Fighter Group, according to the Archer-Ragsdale Arizona website.

Today, original surviving Tuskegee Airmen continue their legacy by encouraging youth to exceed in all they do. An organization was created called the Archer-Ragsdale Arizona Chapter.

The organization was created in August 1972 when the Tuskegee Airmen came together in Detroit and voted to establish a nationwide organization with membership open to all supporters.

“The motto to the Arizona Chapter is ‘Reaching our youth, ensuring our future,’” said David Toliver, Archer-Ragsdale Arizona Chapter Tuskegee Airmen Inc. president. “Yes, we are here to perpetuate the legacy of the Tuskegee Airmen but every member of the chapter knows that our primary focus is on our Arizona youth, about encouraging them toward excellence in not only aviation and aerospace careers but also science, technology and engineering.”




All of this week's top headlines to your email every Friday.


 
 

 
headstones-with-flags-300-dpi

This Memorial Day, honor those who gave all

Courtesy photo   Memorial Day. A long weekend, barbeques, parades, door busting sales at the mall, and the un-official start of summer . . . With all the excitement of warmer weather and fun in the sun that come with Memor...
 
 
(U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Chris Drzazgowski)

Memorial Day weekend safety tips

Memorial Day weekend is coming up, for most service members that means getting on the road and traveling for the first long weekend of the summer. During this holiday weekend more people will be traveling, which makes it import...
 
 
(U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Chris Drzazgowski)

D-M law enforcement recognizes National Police Week

Law enforcement agencies at Davis-Monthan celebrated National Police Week here during the week of May 11-15. National Police Week focuses on remembering law enforcement officials who have lost their lives in the line of duty. T...
 

 

Final Total Force Training Environmental Assessment released

The final Environmental Assessment for Total Force Training, released here today by Air Combat Command, concludes a “Finding of No Significant Impact.” The Air Force will implement the proposed action alternative which places a cap on Total Force Training (formerly Operation Snowbird) flights at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base at 2,326 annual flights.  Officials state that...
 
 

Commissaries continue rolling out in-store Wi-Fi

FORT LEE, Va. – Sixteen more stores will offer Wi-Fi access for commissary patrons between June and September, according to the Defense Commissary Agency’s follow-up schedule. Through the Commissary Patron Internet Mobile System, DeCA is gradually opening customer Wi-Fi access at all stateside commissaries to include Alaska, Hawaii and Puerto Rico. The latest schedule covers the...
 
 

The difference between Memorial and Veterans Day

FORT GEORGE G. MEADE, Md. (AFNS) — There are lots of reminders out there that Memorial Day is about more than a day off or barbecue. It’s also about more than thanking everyone who served or waving flags. The truth is, many people confuse this day with Veterans Day. This day is about one thing...
 




0 Comments


Be the first to comment!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>


Directory powered by Business Directory Plugin