An all African-American KC-135 crew from Fairchild Air Force Base undertook a mission to refuel historic Red Tail Squadron F-16 Fighting Falcons from the 187th Fighter Wing, Maxwell Air Force Base, Ala., Feb. 18, in honor of Black History Month.
The flight took place to represent black military heritage and provide tribute to the World War II Tuskegee Airmen, who played a significant wartime role and paved the way for minority representation in today’s Air Force.
“I thought about how [Team Fairchild] should do something in regards to aviation and black history month,” said Capt. Jazmind Roberts, 93rd Air Refueling Squadron pilot. “I wanted to do something inspired by the Tuskegee Airmen, something that represents our heritage. We’ve made it from being enslaved to gaining civil rights; look how far we have come now.”
Roberts used this flight to show everyone it’s possible to achieve greatness and maintain your culture while serving as a U.S. Armed Forces member.
“Fairchild’s a super-tanker base but we don’t have much [African-American] representation here right now,” Roberts said. “I am the only black female pilot. This flight is to show we also have representation on [the KC-135]. We’re always with other people and never get the chance to be in a crew where everyone has the same culture and bond.”
The Fairchild crew attended an event hosted by the Red Tail Squadron to meet the pilots of the aircraft they had earlier refueled.
The famous Tuskegee Airmen helped lead the way for black Airmen by proving themselves as equal, with more than 1,500 combat missions. They were bestowed with hundreds of decorations for outstanding achievements during WWII. In a time where the capability of black Airmen was viewed with skepticism, the Tuskegee Airmen succeeded in exceeding all expectations.
“The amazing thing about the Red Tails was in that time, fighter pilots only cared about their kill; they would lose bombers all the time,” said Tech. Sgt. Jonathon Rogers, 93rd Air Refueling Squadron boom operator. “The Red Tail squadron came with a different mentality, a mentality [many people] didn’t think black people were capable of. It wasn’t about them or their numbers, it was about escorting their bombers where they needed to go without casualties.”
The Air Force and Team Fairchild believe black history and diversity of the force makes everyone faster, better and stronger. Team Fairchild aircrew members honored these values while showcasing all Airmen serve a higher cause, no matter their race, gender, beliefs or background.