War Heroes, Tuskegee Airmen This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

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When my father suggested going to the Tuskegee Airmen Convention in Phoenix, I replied, “I don’t see why not, but who are the Tuskegee Airmen?” So, I looked them up on the Internet the night before we went and was surprised by what I found.

The Tuskegee Airmen were the first U.S. Army Air Corps combat pilots and crews composed of African-Americans. They started as an experiment during World War II when pilots were in short supply. It was believed at that time that African-Americans lacked the intelligence, skill, courage, and patriotism to fly or maintain aircraft. This group of 445 pilots and crew deployed overseas dispelled these racist ideas with their incredible war record.

The Tuskegee Airmen flew more than 15,000 combat sorties in Europe, North Africa, and Italy in 1943, and continued until the end of the war. During these missions, they destroyed or damaged 400 enemy aircraft. They were credited with sinking 40 ships, including one destroyer. They also damaged or destroyed 1,000 ground targets, including trains, radar installations, and oil and ammunition supply dumps.

Their primary mission, however, was escorting the Allied bombers, including B-17s, which my grandfather and great uncle flew. The Tuskegee Airmen became known as the “Red Tail Angels” among the bomber crews because so few bombers were lost when they escorted them. They soon became the requested fighter squadron by bomber crews, many of whom were unaware of the race of these pilots.

The successes of the Tuskegee Airmen did not come without a price: 66 pilots were killed in action and another 32 were taken as prisoners of war. Their successes are also evident in the 900 medals awarded them, including Silver and Bronze Stars, 95 Distinguished Flying Crosses, and 744 Air Medals.

At the convention, I was lucky to meet many of the pilots and crew members of the Tuskegee Airmen. I was especially thrilled to meet some who were certain they had flown escort missions for my great uncle’s bomber group. It was a privilege and an honor to meet these unsung and noble heroes. I was impressed by their quiet humility, courage, and devotion to their country. They fought bravely for their country, which at the time did not consider them equal to the task or equal in society. Meeting these living heroes was like meeting history.

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.






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This article has 11 comments. Post your own now!

eeeeee said...
Mar. 15, 2011 at 9:36 am
I loved the way you described the african american pilots
 
The Situation said...
Oct. 13, 2010 at 11:11 pm
This article was extremely well written and detailed. I never knew there was an African American Air Corps combat pilots in WWII until now.
 
stark said...
Oct. 13, 2010 at 2:17 pm
This was a great article about the  Tuskegee flyers. That was awesome that you actually got to meet some of them to!!  =)
 
Chucknorris123 said...
Oct. 13, 2010 at 2:13 pm
This article says that race doesn't matter, it's your skill.
 
sunshine cloudy day said...
Oct. 13, 2010 at 2:12 pm
This was a great article about the  Tuskegee flyers. i really liked it and was influenced by it!
 
Bill said...
Oct. 13, 2010 at 1:58 pm
I think this artical just prooves that it doesn't matter what color your skin is what matters is what you do with your skin.
 
bobmarley917 said...
Oct. 13, 2010 at 10:55 am
This was a great article about the  Tuskegee flyers. That was awesome that you actually got to meet some of them too!
 
family guy said...
Oct. 13, 2010 at 10:18 am
I am so happy to know that people were not racial when it came to the army,t hat is so inspiring
 
rebelstrong34 said...
Oct. 13, 2010 at 9:29 am
Wow, thats cool to know. I want to share that with my dad. (He was in the Army)
 
tomtamtimmy This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Sept. 21, 2010 at 12:48 am
wow. i never new afrcan amercans would have been fighter pilots in WWII. i would of been happy to know they were watching back!!! =)
 
tomtamtimmy This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. replied...
Sept. 21, 2010 at 12:49 am
my back sorry my keybord is screwed.
 
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