Salutes & Awards

April 4, 2014

Day taken to commemorate Tuskegee Airmen

Tags:
Senior Airman GRACE LEE
56th Fighter Wing Public Affairs

David Toliver, Archer-Ragsdale Arizona Chapter Tuskegee Airmen, Inc. president, speaks March 27 at the inaugural Tuskegee Airmen Commemoration Day ceremony at the Luke Air Force Base Tuskegee Airmen Memorial Air Park. The ceremony was the first of its kind after Gov. Janice Brewer signed legislation 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 Corps. Toliver, along with four Tuskegee Airmen, their friends and family, Luke Thunderbolts and members of the local community attended the event.

They served in the U.S. military during a time when they were discriminated against and separated because of the color of their skin, but adversity didn’t stop them from showing the world that one’s race doesn’t determine what one is capable of achieving.

Known as the Tuskegee Airmen, these African-Americans served as pilots, aircraft mechanics, crew chiefs and more during World War II.

Luke Thunderbolts, members of the local community, and four Tuskegee Airmen and their families came together to take part in the inaugural Tuskegee Airmen Commemoration Day ceremony March 27 at the Luke Air Force Base Tuskegee Airmen Memorial Air Park.

“We welcome you to the very first Tuskegee Airmen Commemoration Day ceremony,” said David Toliver, Archer-Ragsdale Arizona Chapter Tuskegee Airmen Inc. president. “We are delighted that you chose to come out to be with us to share this very important moment.”

The ceremony took place in front of the F-16 static display near the 944th Fighter Wing headquarters building because of what it represented – the bond the 944th FW has with the legacy of the Tuskegee Airmen. Although the Tuskegee Airmen were never stationed at Luke, Luke did acquire the 301st and 302nd fighter squadrons which were two of the original Tuskegee Airmen squadrons after WWII.

“The F-16 has a red tail in memory of the 332nd Fighter Group, which was known as the Red Tail Angels by the bomber groups that they escorted,” said Ben Bruce, 56th Fighter Wing ground safety manager, Archer-Ragsdale Arizona Chapter historian and guest speaker. “The nose of the F-16 is painted with the words ‘by request to’ taken from the nose art of Col. Benjamin Davis whose P-51 read ‘by request.’”

After Bruce spoke, each of the four Tuskegee Airmen was introduced. Their names are Lt. Col. Robert Ashby, Sgt. Howard Williams, Sgt. Rudolph Silas and Sgt. Ralph Stewart.

Near the end of the ceremony, Ashby and Silas laid a wreath at the base of the F-16 static display in memory of their deceased comrades.

Afterward, Col. Kurt Gallegos, 944th FW commander, and Col. Jeremy Sloane, 56th FW vice commander, made closing remarks.

“Today signifies the celebration of the day the Tuskegee program began in March of 1941,” Gallegos said. “Even though we no longer have the 302nd or the 301st, this air park behind me serves as a constant reminder of the accomplishments, contributions and the sacrifices the Airmen made in the defense of our country. I can assure you our future aviators and maintainers will always remember the Red Tails.”

While many may think of pilots when the words “Tuskegee Airmen” are mentioned, they were actually a group of men and women whose jobs varied, one of which was Stewart’s, who served as a crew chief and a flight chief from 1943 to 1946.

“My fondest memory was being able to serve with some of the best people I’ve ever met,” Stewart said. “I feel honored to be one of the original Tuskegee Airmen, and if I had the opportunity to serve again, I would. It’s important to have a day of commemoration so people can be educated and appreciate the legacy of the Tuskegee Airmen.”




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


 
 

 
Grace Lee

Pilot saves six Marines earning him the Distinguished Flying Cross with Valor

Grace Lee Brig. Gen. Scott Pleus, 56th Fighter Wing commander, pins the Air Force Combat Action Medal onto Capt. Aaron Cavazos, 61st Fighter Squadron weapons officer, Jan. 16 in Club Five Six at Luke Air Force Base. Cavazos was...
 
 

Financial responsibility — vital to readiness

In the “Band of Brothers” miniseries, there is a line in the movie where the soldiers are told to make sure they sign up for life insurance to ensure their next-of-kin gets $10,000 upon the soldier’s death. While none of us are about to make a combat jump in 1944 to fight the Nazis, Airmen...
 
 

Adapt, overcome, succeed

Change is inevitable, especially in today’s Air Force. If you’ve been serving for more than a few years, it’s likely you’ve experienced everything from new physical fitness requirements to the implementation of force management programs. Enlisted performance reports and feedback forms have been altered and changes to the promotion system are rapidly approaching. We expect...
 

 
Courtesy Photo

Chrach saves lives, earns recognition

Courtesy Photo Tech. Sgt. Steven Bruner, 56th Security Forces Squadron military working dog handler, and Chrach, 56th SFS MWD, pose for a photo in Afghanistan during their 2012 deployment. Chrach was recently awarded the 12th A...
 
 

News Briefs January 23, 2015

VH1 concert VH1 and sponsors supporting the event are hosting a Super Bowl Blitz concert featuring Fall Out Boy and Charli XCX at 5 p.m. Jan. 30 in Hangar 999 as a “Thank you” to those who serve in the U.S. military. Members of the Luke community are invited and the concert is free. Service...
 
 
Courtesy Photo

Civilian answers AF call, gets dream job

Courtesy Photo Senior Airman Kristina Inocencio, 56th Civil Engineer Squadron engineer technician, measures the distance from the tree to the building Jan. 15 during survey training at Luke Air Force Base. One of Inocencio’s ...
 




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