March is here and Black History Month is over, but the stories of brave African Americans in the military endure. To honor a certain group of distinguished soldiers, AIU presents a recap of Black History Month to discuss the achievements of the Tuskegee Airmen.
On the surface, the Tuskegee Airmen seem unremarkable in military history. After all, they were a group of men who joined the Air Force to fight in World War II, not unlike countless other Americans who joined the war effort.
What sets the Tuskegee Airmen apart, however, is that they were the first black soldiers in the Air Force. Their squadron was formed in 1941 in Tuskegee, Alabama. But what made the Tuskegee Airmen truly extraordinary was their extreme commitment to the United States, even in the face of severe racial adversity.
According to the documentary Red Tails, a 2012 film produced by George Lucas, the German POWs had actually had more rights on U.S. military bases than the African-American soldiers, who faced segregation.*
Despite the setbacks that the Tuskegee Airmen encountered, they were certainly successful. The Airmen destroyed 950 German vehicles as well as 115 aircraft in the air and 150 on the ground.*
Celebrating the success of the Tuskegee Airmen is a great way to recognize the past, but it is also a great way to prepare for the future. Air Force Gen. Craig R. McKinley points out that one way to recognize the legacy of the Tuskegee Airmen is to “[conduct] outreach to make more young people eligible for recruitment.”** Lack of education is one factor that limits recruitment, so carry on the tradition of advancing your education at a military-friendly school like AIU.
*According to Commentary by Tech. Sgt. Mareshah Haynes, Defense Media Activity, “Tuskegee Airmen: A Legacy of Love.” Available at: http://www.dodlive.mil/index.php/2012/02/tuskegee-airmen-a-legacy-of-love/, 1 February 2012, accessed 8 March 2012.
**According to Lisa Daniel, “McKinley: America Must Preserve Tuskegee Airmen’s Legacy.” Available at http://www.defense.gov/news/newsarticle.aspx?id=64962, 8 August 2011, accessed 8 March 2012.
Photo: Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division, Public Domain.