Although this is a female-focused blog, I have decided to post a daily profile of African Americans for Black History Month. As the daughter of a Nigerian immigrant (mother) and African, Native-American and Caucasian-American (father), I have had to seek out “history” because it wasn’t necessarily something taught at home.
I have pondered what type of woman would I be if I was born and raised in a different period of time, from the middle ages, to the civil rights movement. This is something I may never know, but one thing I do know is that I would not be allotted the opportunities I have and have the attained the accomplishments that I have, had it not been for the hard work, dedication, planning, marching, beatings and deaths of those before me.
So here goes my tribute to my ancestors…
The Tuskegee airmen were the first black servicemen to serve as military aviators in the U.S. armed forces, flying with distinction during World War II. Though subject to racial discrimination both at home and abroad, the 996 pilots and more than 15,000 ground personnel who served with the all-black units would be credited with some 15,500 combat sorties and earn over 150 Distinguished Flying Crosses for their achievements. The highly publicized successes of the Tuskegee Airmen helped pave the way for the eventual integration of the U.S. armed forces under President Harry Truman in 1948.
The Tuskegee airfield program expanded to train pilots and crew to operate two-engine B-25 medium bombers. These men became part of the second black flying group, the 477th Bombardment Group. Shortages of crew members, technicians, and equipment troubled the 477th, and World War II ended before it could be deployed overseas.
Altogether 992 pilots graduated from the Tuskegee airfield courses, and they flew 1,578 missions and 15,533 sorties, destroyed 261 enemy aircraft, and won more than 850 medals.
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