Tuskegee Airmen Fighter Pilots Commemoration

BHERC continues to support and promote historical events and individuals and was a proud sponsor of the “60th Anniversary of the First Tuskegee Airmen Fighter Pilots Commemoration,” in association with the Los Angeles Chapter of the Tuskegee Airmen Inc., to recognize the first Tuskegee Airmen Fighter Pilots and honor some of the surviving members of the 99th Fighter Squadron–the trailblazing Tuskegee Airmen. The first five Tuskegee Airmen were awarded their wings on March 6, 1942, after training at Tuskegee Army Airfield on the campus of Tuskegee Institute, in Alabama.

Honorees included William Campbell, Charles R. Dryden, Herbert E. Carter, William R. Thompson, Spann Watson, John W. Rogers, Elmer D. Jones, Bernard S. Proctor, Roger “Bill” Terry, and Hiram Little, Sr.

The “60th Anniversary Commemoration of the First Tuskegee Airmen Fighter Pilots” is also intended to remove the veil of invisibility that has kept the heroic accomplishments of the Tuskegee Airmen from the pages of popular history. These black fighter pilots, in the face of racism, became known and feared by the Germans as “Schwartze Vogelmenschen” (Black Birdmen) and as the “Fighting Red Tail Angels” to the American bomber crews they protected, and racked up an impressive combat record in the skies over Europe and North Africa. Flying more than 200 missions as fighter escort on long-range bombing raids, the Tuskegee Airmen never lost a bomber to enemy fighters. They flew more than 15,000 combat sorties in 15,000 missions and destroyed more than 600 enemy aircraft. Of the 992 black aviators trained at Tuskegee Army Airfield, 66 were killed in combat and 32 were taken as prisoners in Germany.

Founded in 1996, the Black Hollywood Education and Resource Center is a nonprofit, public benefit organization designed to advocate, educate, research, develop, and preserve the history and future of Blacks in film and television.

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