The "Red Tale" Heroes
African American Pilots Take to the Skies Breaking Barriers
Summary of Event
The Tuskegee Airmen were active from 1940 to 1952. The first black fighter squadron to see actual combat was the 99th Fighter Squadron. However the first black fighter group was the 332nd. As their name became known to the public, people began to write about them in newspapers. One stated that not a single bomber that was escorted by a Tuskegee Airman was lost to the enemy. This of course was not true however, it started widespread beliefs that they were unbreakable and that they could not be defeated. They quickly became a force to be reckoned with.3
You may still be asking yourself, "Why are they important?" Well, the answer is not found overseas in the midst of war, but rather at home in the fight for race equality. A African American pilot symbolized everything that America thought theycouldn't be. A pilot had to be smart, vigilant, resourceful, strategic, and courageous. And that's what they were. They showed the entire nation that they were people to and that they could serve their country with the same passion, courage, and dedication that any and every white soldier did.
Tuskegee airmen fly into battle with their B-17 Flying Fortress over the skies of Europe.
The "Red Tail" heroes come home safe once again.
Another friend and brother in arms is shot down and falls towards an unfortunate train station
FIRST HAND ACCOUNT
"The first time I applied for a commission I was sent a rejection letter with a very distinct answer
of why I would not be able to serve as a pilot," said Mann. "The letter stated there were no facilities to train Negros, so I went back to being a bell hop - fat, dumb and happy."
Before being accepted Mann applied to more times. I learned a lot from the rejection letters,"
said Mann. "I learned that I was going to have to fight tooth and nail for the ability to defend my country as a fighter pilot."
Their instructors at basic training were all white. "Our instructors were white," said Mann. "They (instructors) would hassle us just for being black and would use the excuse that they were preparing us for the stress of war. Fortunately my instructor went easier on our group." However through struggles, ups, and downs Mann got through it all and was able to serve his country as a pilot.
FACTS AND STATISTICS
- 992 pilots graduated from Tuskegee, with the last class finishing on June 29,1946.
- 992 pilots graduated from Tuskegee University, the last of which graduated on June 29, 1946
- They were split between four flight squadrons; the 99th, 100th, 301st & 302nd. The combined forces of the four squadrons formed the 332nd Fighter Group.
- The Tuskegee Airmen shot either down or damaged 409 German aircraft.
- The Tuskegee Airmen destroyed 950 ground units such as trucks, railroad cars, etc
- The "Red Tail" heroes sunk one German Navy destroyer using only machine gun fire.
- George Lucas, the creator of Star Wars, made a movie about the Tuskegee Airmen and there is a movie that was made in recent years called "Red Tails" that is also about the Tuskegee Airmen.
- One of the Tuskegee Airmen almost started another war when they came close to shooting down one of the leaders of Libya in a dog fight over Tripoli.
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