Tuskegee Airmen Essay

2427 words - 10 pages

TUSKEGEE AIRMEN The Tuskegee Airmen, the only African - American pilots to fight in World War II. In 1941, The pressure was put on President Franklin D. Roosevelt to take positive actions in the utilization of Negroes in the armed services. On March 7, 1942 the first five Negro cadets were commissioned as pilots of the United State Air Force. While assigned with the 324th squadron, the 99th received its first aerial victory and many more victories were to follow. The squadron earned the name "The Red Tail Angels,"1 because of their red painted tail wings and the reputation for staying with all the bombers they escorted, rather than leaving them to chalk up kills for their own personal glory. The Squadron lost its first airmen in a two-plane crash. Shooting down five German planes in one-day, lead to 332nd Fighter Group being awarded the Distinguished Unit Citation for successfully escorting bombers and for outstanding and aggressive combat techniques. The Tuskegee airmen made history, a history that will forever and stand out in the history of the United States. The famed Tuskegee Airmen are renowned for their valor and courageous actions over the skies of North Africa, Sicily and Western Europe during World War II. The African-American aviators had proved the nation wrong in learning to fly, and were exceptional in World War II. "Airmen: The flight of the Wright Brother"2 in 1903 sparked enthusiasm for aviation, for many black youth all over America. But racial hatred and discrimination was so deeply embedded in America that many young blacks were excluded from the army's flight instruction program. They were turned down by the Army Air Force, because there were no established black unit, with any type of flight training, also officials used the excuse that blacks did not appear to be interested in flying, nor did they have the mentality, aptitude, or the reflexes to fly. Therefore, many black men enlisted into the armed services for menial and subservient roles. This type of attitude and apathy on behalf of the federal government and military officials, sparked anger in many black leaders, the press, and white supporters. The pressure was put on President Franklin D. Roosevelt to take positive actions in the utilization of Negroes in the armed services. On September 27, 1940, President Roosevelt along with the Assistant Secretary of Robert P. Patterson, and Secretary of the Navy, Frank Knox met with three black leaders. Phillip A. Randolph, Walter White, and T. Arnold Hill, was to consider the roles of blacks in the armed services. Following the conference, the War Department developed a policy that stated, "All Negroes would be used in proportion to the total population of the armed services"3. It further stated that this "policy was not to intermingle colored and white enlisted personnel in the same organizations"4. The War Department stated that "the black leaders supported, had agreed with the policy"5....

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