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.


 
 

 
Photo: WoW_pict

Warfighter of the Week: Staff Sgt. Brad Johannes

Photo: WoW_pict Col. Robert Stonemark, 12th Air Force (Air Forces Southern) chief of staff, presents Staff Sgt. Brad Johannes, 12th AF (AFSOUTH) manager of engineering operations, with the Warfighter of the Week certificate dur...
 
 
Promotion_pict

AF releases colonel, lieutenant colonel, major selection board results

JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-RANDOLPH, Texas (AFNS) — The Air Force selected 34 lieutenant colonels for promotion to colonel, 117 majors for promotion to lieutenant colonel and 272 captains for promotion to major during the cal...
 
 
U.S. Army photo by Spc. Nikayla Shodeen

Women complete Swamp Phase, earn Army Ranger Tab

FORT BENNING, Ga.,— The U.S. Army Maneuver Center of Excellence announced yesterday that 96 soldiers, including two women, met the standards of the Swamp Phase and will graduate from the Ranger Course Aug. 21. Ranger School ...
 

 
U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Adam Grant

Warfighter of the Week: Capt. Sabrina Gonzalez

Capt. Sabrina Gonzalez, 12th Air Force (Air Forces Southern) Operations, plans and assessments, executive officer, was recognized as the Warfighter of the Week, August 10, 2015. Gonzalez, a native of San Antonio, Texas, has bee...
 
 

Southern Methodist University receives honors from Raytheon

DALLAS (SMU) – Raytheon Company has named Southern Methodist University (SMU) as a strategic partner in cyber research based on the company’s collaborative efforts with the Darwin Deason Institute for Cyber Security in SMU’s Bobby B. Lyle School of Engineering.   The strategic partnership includes joint research projects in cyber security, Raytheon internships for SMU students,...
 
 

AF selects 13,269 for staff sergeant, release date Aug. 20

JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-RANDOLPH, Texas (AFNS) — The Air Force selected 13,269 for promotion to staff sergeant out of 39,260 considered during the 2015 E5 cycle, for a 33.8 percent selection rate. The staff sergeant promotion selection list will be posted to the myPers enlisted promotion page Aug. 20 at 8 a.m. CDT. The list...
 




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=""> <s> <strike> <strong>