Tuskegee Airman Honored During Ceremonial Brass Concert


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Tuskegee Airman Honored During Ceremonial Brass Concert

By Adam M. Stump

January 17, 2012 - A member of the Tuskegee Airmen was honored during a concert by the United States Air Force Band's Ceremonial Brass on Saturday at The First Academy Faith Hall. Retired Air Force Chief Master Sgt. Richard R. Hall, Jr., a Winter Park native, was attending Xavier University of Louisiana in New Orleans when he was called to active duty in 1942 to serve with the Tuskegee Airmen. 

The Tuskegee Airmen were the first African American military aviators in the U.S. armed forces who trained in Tuskegee, Ala. Serving during World War II in the Army Air Corps, these Airmen were subject to racial discrimination. Despite these adversities, the Tuskegee Airmen proudly referred to as "Red Tails" or "Red Tail Angels" because of the distinctive crimson paint on the tail section of their aircraft trained and flew with distinction, receiving the Congressional Gold Medal for valor and performance. 

The band's theme of the winter tour is "American Song and Cinema." The tour features a new work commissioned by the band and dedicated to the Tuskegee Airmen entitled "Red Tail Skirmish" by composer Bruce Yurko. 

"Red Tail Skirmish" is a musical epic that depicts the tension, thrill and excitement of an aerial dogfight through a fast-paced work for the brass and percussion ensemble. Following the work, Hall, Tuskegee Airmen Gen. Daniel "Chappie" James, Jr., chapter president Montoria "Tony" Hubbard and chapter recording secretary Judie Gilliam were presented score sheets for "Red Tail Skirmish." 

From right, retired Chief Master Sgt. Richard R. Hall Jr., an original Tuskegee Airman, retired Lt. Col. Montoria Hubbard, the Tuskegee Airmen Gen. Daniel "Chappie" James chapter president, and Col. Gina Humble, the 11th Operations Group commander at Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling in Washington, D.C., sing the Air Force song during a concert at The First Academy Faith Hall Jan. 14, 2012 in Orlando, Fla. The U.S. Air Force Band Ceremonial Brass honored Tuskegee Airmen, the first African American military aviators in the U.S. armed forces, during their performance, playing a new work entitled "Red Tail Skirmish." (U.S. Air Force photo/Master Sgt. Adam M. Stump)

A member of the "Red Tails," Hall was trained in munitions and aircraft maintenance. He deployed to both North Africa and Italy during World War II. Following the war, Hall was stationed in Ohio at the 332nd Fighter Wing at Lockbourne Air Force Base, which is now Rickenbacker Air National Guard Base, serving under the command of then-Col. Benjamin O. Davis, another Tuskegee Airman. Hall said he remembers the day Davis told them the military would integrate blacks into the service. "Colonel Davis had us in the theater, the officers and senior enlisted," Hall said. "He said, 'We're going to integrate and go to the four corners of the world.'"


Even though the military integrated, it took time for the Airmen to be accepted. Hall said the unit flew an operation that called for them to fly from South Carolina to the Gulf of Mexico. The unit had to divert because they were not allowed to fly over Georgia or arm their weapons until they were across the Gulf of Mexico because they were black. 

Hall soon found himself in another war zone, this time in Korea. Hall was at Kimpo Air Base or "K-14" when the Airmen had to abandon the base, watching it burn as they took off. After getting promoted to chief master sergeant, Hall continued to serve through the Vietnam War, when he retired in 1973. Hall said many of those memories came back as he watched the Ceremonial Brass perform in front of hundreds. 

"This was truly outstanding," Hall said. "It brought back a lot of memories." He said it was also a tremendous sense of pride to watch black Airmen perform in the band, something that wasn't possible when he first joined. The band's program also featured a Glenn Miller Medley entitled "Miller Time," arranged by former Ceremonial Brass member David Bandman, a retired master sergeant. The group also played a medley of works by film composer and former Air Force Band member John Williams entitled "Epic Themes."  

This Ceremonial Brass is typically seen throughout the National Capital Region performing at more than 1,100 ceremonies each year, including large ensembles and buglers to perform in most outdoor ceremonial venues and the Ceremonial Brass Quintet for smaller indoor settings. The origins of the Ceremonial Brass trace back to 1964 when The United States Air Force Headquarters Command Band was incorporated into The U.S. Air Force Band as a ceremonial unit. It became an all-brass and percussion ensemble in 1985 and was renamed The Ceremonial Brass.

Since those early years, it has evolved into a 50-member organization consisting of world-class brass players, percussionists and a drum major. The Ceremonial Brass represent all Airmen while standing on the tarmac for the arrival of heads of state; providing full-honors during state funerals; and, marching down Pennsylvania Avenue during presidential inaugural parades.

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