02 February 2017

Tuskegee Airmen of World War II

Tuskegee Airmen Monument, Walterboro, SC  
Sometimes I come across something so significant that I feel almost ashamed that I had no real awareness of it before that moment. That is how I felt learning about the black Tuskegee Airmen military aviators in World War II. This picture has been on my camera for a few months and I finally got around to uploading it and digging into a bit of the story. Wikipedia has a great article on the topic. 

I wondered what the Walterboro connection was but, although named for their origins at Alabama’s Tuskegee Institute, the pilots of the famed 332nd Fighter Group completed final training in Walterboro, South Carolina at Walterboro Army Airfield so it made sense to put the memorial here. 
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 332nd’s reputation for aggressiveness in air combat was so widely-known that the Germans also had a nickname for them — Schwartze Vogelmenschen, or “Black Bird Men.” Seven of the famed Doolittle Raiders were also trained here and there was a compound for holding German prisoners of war, and it was also the site of the U.S. military’s largest camouflage school.