The Tuskegee Airmen Part 2
  Aviation History  

 

HOME        LATEST NEWS             -     BOOKS YOU CAN READ ONLINE       EDITORIALS    AVIATION HISTORY

 
   

The Tuskegee Airmen
Part 2  
 
 

The Tuskegee Airmen pursued the enemy, and by the time the group returned to their base at Ramitelli, Italy, the Airmen had engaged more than 100 enemy aircraft, destroying five and damaging another. Less than a month later the Airmen gained a distinction that no other Fighting unit, Black or White, during the war could claim. On, June 25, Wendell O. Pruitt, leading a flight of Airmen, together with Lt. Gwynne Pierson, jointly sank a German destroyer using only machine guns.

At least twice the Tuskegee Airmen demonstrated enormous courage and valor as they stayed in flight despite being low on fuel and once also low on ammunition. Once the bombers were late, but the Airmen stayed, escorting the bombers to targets in Southern Germany and took on more enemy aircraft than their own number of 61. During this engagement, the 332nd pilots shot down 11 German fighters without a single loss to their own group.  The other time, the 332nd Fighter group was to be relieved by another fighter group, but that unit failed to make the rendezvous.

This mission was deep in the heart of Germany, near Berlin, and despite being low on fuel and ammunition, the 332nd stayed with the bombers. This escort duty also marked the first time this group had faced German jet fighter aircraft (at least , newest German aircraft, the Me 262). True to their nature and ability the 332nd successfully fought off the German jet fighters, downing three and damaging another six. Prior to that day, only two of the German jets had been shot down by Americans. During the course of the war, the Tuskegee Airmen lost 66 pilots killed in combat, and another 32 were shot down and became prisoners of war (POWs). On April 26, 1945, the 332nd Group had the distinction of destroying the last four enemy aircraft shot down in the Mediterranean Theater of Operations during World War II. Eleven days later, the war was over.

 

In May of 1988, the United States Air Force conducted dedication ceremonies at the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colorado for a memorial to the Tuskegee Airmen, with the unveiling of an eight-foot bronze statue of a Black World War II fighter pilot. Fifty years after World War II ended, the Tuskegee Airmen received a belated honor in their effort to educate Americans about their participation in military conflict: Home Box Office (HBO), produced and aired "The Tuskegee Airmen" in August of 1995. The movie starred such noted African American actors as Laurence Fishburne, Cuba Gooding Jr. Allen Payne, Malcolm-Jamal Warner, Courtney Vance and Andre Braugher.

Students, aviation buffs, historians, and avid readers may want to read these publications to find out more about the Tuskegee Airmen: "The Tuskegee Airmen" by Charles F. Francis; "Lonely Eagles" by Robert A. Rose; "Blacks in the Army Air Forces During World War II" by Alan M. Osur; "The Air Force Intergrates" by Alan L. Gropman; "The Tuskegee Experience" by the Tuskegee Airmen, Inc.; "Strength for the Fight" by Bernard Naity; "Black Wings" by Von Hardesty and Dominick Pisano, National Air and Space Museum, Smithsonian Institution; "Pre-War Days at Tuskegee" by L. Albert Seipio II, "Flying Free: America's First Black Aviators" by Philip S. Hart; "The Freeman Field Mutiny" by Lt. Col James C. Warren (USAF) (Ret.); "Segregated Skies" by Stanley Sandler; "The Tuskegee Airmen Story (A Speech Guide)" by the East Coast Chapter, Tuskegee Airmen, Inc.; and "Benjamin O. Davis Jr.: An Autobiography", Smithsonian Institution Press. In addition, there are several periodicals and video tapes available.

 
ŠAvStop Online Magazine                                                                                  Contact Us              Return To History

AvStop Aviation News and Resource Online Magazine

↑ Grab this Headline Animator