The Tuskegee Airmen were the first Black aviators in the United States Armed Forces, and their story is one of courage, perseverance, and determination in the face of racism and adversity.
They were first trained in 1941 at Alabama’s Tuskegee Army Air Field, which was specifically established during World War II to train Black pilots, navigators, bombardiers, and support personnel.
The airmen proved themselves to be highly skilled and dedicated pilots. Their successful record for protecting the bombers on raids over Europe and North Africa was unmatched by any other fighter group.
From the team at Untold History:
“They developed a reputation for excellence destroying hundreds of enemy trains, transport vehicles, planes, and even a German Destroyer. By the end of the war they had flown more than fifteen thousand missions and had the lowest crew loss record of an escort fighter group. Some went on to have exceptional careers, including Daniel ‘Chappie’ James Jr., who became the first African-American four-star general. Ninety-five Tuskegee Airmen were awarded the distinguished flying cross.”
Despite their achievements, the Tuskegee Airmen faced discrimination and segregation both during and after the war. However, their contributions paved the way for greater racial integration in the military and helped to inspire a generation of African Americans to pursue careers in aviation.
In 2006, the Tuskegee Airmen were collectively awarded the Congressional Gold Medal, the highest civilian honor awarded by the United States Congress, in recognition of their service and sacrifice.
Untold History, a project by the Driving Force Institute, is produced by Makematic along with the USC Center for Engagement-Driven Global Education:
Untold is a free collection of short, compelling, history videos and animations designed to engage new audiences in a new conversation and shine a light on the stories that don’t always make it into the classroom and question what we think we know about those that do. Untold is here to fill in the gaps and bring new stories to life.
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