Dealing with racism and discrimination not only in society but within the Army, African American pilots – known as the Tuskegee Airmen – scored major air victories during World War II, including shooting down the first German planes over Berlin.
Nicknamed the Tuskegee Airmen because they trained at the Tuskegee Institute in Alabama, the men selected to become the first black military pilots in American history weren’t thought of as being very intelligent. They were to be assigned support roles after finishing their training. The airmen proved critics wrong.
The Strategic Air Command and Aerospace Museum in Ashland, Nebraska, expanded its exhibit honoring the fighters. The exhibit features some artifacts donated by Paul Adams, who lived in Lincoln following the war. The decorated fighter pilot died five years ago.
Small compared to others, the exhibit focuses on the successes of nearly 1,000 pilots, highlighting the 332nd Fighter Group and the 447th Bombardment Group. More than 80 Tuskegee Airmen died in the line of duty. In addition to the pilots, the Tuskegee Airmen included thousands more soldiers who worked as mechanics and other support roles.
The Tuskegee Airmen were assigned to bases in Italy and North Africa. Midway through the war, the Italy-based pilots escorted bombers over several European countries.
The 447th pilots didn’t complete training in time to be assigned overseas.
We enjoy learning about history and the Tuskegee Airmen’s story is one of the most intriguing we’ve seen. The SAC Museum tells the story succinctly. We recommend visiting the exhibit when you’re at the museum.
For more information on the SAC Museum and its exhibits, please visit www.sacmuseum.org.