Air Force

August 10, 2012

‘Honoring our Past – Ensuring our Future’: Tuskegee Airmen mentor Las Vegas youth

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By Senior Airman Jack Sanders
99th Air Base Wing Public Affairs

Retired Capt. Samuel Hunter Jr. and a group of youths render respect as the national anthem is sung during a youth lunch Aug. 2, 2012, in downtown Las Vegas, Nev., during the 41st Annual Tuskegee Airmen, Inc. National Convention. Youth at the lunch were reminded of the past, while given guidance for their futures.

LAS VEGAS, Nev. — Tuskegee Airmen, Inc., held a youth lunch at the Las Vegas Hotel and Casino, Aug. 2, in an effort to share past experiences and provide mentorship for youth in and around the Las Vegas area.

The Tuskegee Airmen are the men who enlisted in the U.S. Army Air Corps and became America’s first black military Airmen.

U.S. Air Force Capt. Alva Temple, 1st Lt. James Harvey, 1st Lt. Harry Stewart and 1st Lt. Halbert Alexander pose with their 1949 Weapons Meet trophy in May 1949 at the Flamingo Hotel in Las Vegas, Nev. The trophy went missing for 55 years, but is now displayed at the National Museum of the U.S.Air Force at Wright Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio.

Those men were sent to the Tuskegee Army Air Field, Ala., to complete the Army Air Corps pilot training. The “Tuskegee Experiment”, as it was called, was conducted by the U.S. War Department and the Army Air Corps from 1941 – 1946 to determine if African-Americans could fly.

The youth lunch event was part of the 41st Annual Tuskegee Airmen, Inc., National Convention. This year’s convention was held in Las Vegas in conjunction with the International Black Aerospace Council member’s co-convention. Children from Las Vegas, Tuskegee Airmen and Air Reserve Command Airmen filled the Las Vegas Hotel and Casino event room for lunch and listened to key note speakers and International Black Aviators Convention members.

Roscoe Brown Jr., Tuskegee Airman, and U.S. Air Force Brig. Gen. Stayce Harris, U.S. Africa Command mobilization assistant to the commander, accompany retired U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. James Harvey as he receives a certificate and red feather, giving him the title of honorary member of the Red Tails Aug. 1, 2012, at the Las Vegas Hotel and Casino, Nev. Harvey was presented with the title last year at a Tuskegee reunion in Orlando, Fla., but was unable to receive the award.

“I think it’s very important to reach back to our youth because our youth are our future,” said Maj. Terry Troutman, Air Force Reserve Command plans and programs officer. “Events like this, I think, are a vehicle to get the information out [about past and present happenings]. There’s a lot of information out there.”

The convention, and lunch, afforded those involved the opportunity to share knowledge and a common history, with the goal of bettering their future. The IBAC’s slogan for the convention — “Honoring Our Past – Ensuring Our Future” — reflects the goals of the convention.

Keeping those goals in mind, the event key note speakers discussed inspiration, leadership, and what it takes to make it in society today.

Master Sgt. Veronica Reynolds and Lt. Col. Bertha Jackson, Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, N.J. participated in a youth lunch Aug. 2, 2012, during the 41st Annual Tuskegee Airmen, Inc. National Convention, here in Las Vegas.

“There are so many people here honoring so many legends and true heroes,” said Larry Jemison, Tuskegee graduate and key note speaker. “When we’re talking about honoring our past and ensuring our future, it’s important for our young folks to understand what our past was. It means understanding the past. It means telling them that 50, 60 years ago we were stripped of a lot of the freedoms and opportunities that we thought should have been afforded to us.”

Jemison said while events like this were a great step in educating youth today, it still impresses him to see children researching their past.

“I love to see the young students come up and speak about Bessie Coleman [The first African American female pilot] and the effects that she had on aviation because it means they’ve researched,” Jemison said. “They’ve found out what it really takes to persevere, even when somebody else doesn’t want you to succeed.”

Jemison said the Tuskegee Airmen’s past stands as an example to everyone to always demonstrate bravery, intelligence, skill and patriotism.

Some of the Tuskegee Airmen’s accomplishments included, but were not limited to, flying more than 1,200 missions, totaling 112 aerial victories during World War II, and being awarded 96 Distinguished Flying Crosses.

 




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