CSAF, Tuskegee Airmen recognize 75 years of trailblazing

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Olivia B. Stecker
  • Secretary of the Air Force Public Affairs

Three Tuskegee Airmen joined Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. CQ Brown, Jr., at Joint Base Andrews July 26 to commemorate the 75th anniversary of desegregation in the military and officially induct a PT-17 Stearman into the National Museum of the Air Force at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio.

The event recognized the legacy of the Tuskegee Airmen and their impact of ensuring Airmen as well as other service members can serve to their full potential.

On July 26, 1948, President Harry S. Truman signed Executive Order 9981, calling for the desegregation of the U.S. Armed Forces, renouncing 170 years of sanctioned discrimination. This crucial step forward inspired other parts of American society to move toward desegregation.

As the first all-Black American unit in World War II, the Tuskegee Airmen’s actions, accomplishments and experiences helped inspire Truman’s executive order.

“If you got a dream, work on it no matter what it is. If a high school dropout can do what I’ve done, you can do whatever dream you dream about. I hope that message gets out to the young people.” Tuskegee Airman William Fauntroy

The key aspect of the ceremony was the induction of the PT-17 as a reminder of how most Tuskegee pilots, like retired Col. Carl Johnson, first trained on this aircraft during World War II. Currently, only two known PT-17 Stearmans used by the Tuskegee Airmen remain.

“Let us remember that those who flew this plane, those who started their journey to conquer the skies; ultimately changed our Air Force, our armed services and our nation for the better,” Brown said.

The addition of the aircraft to the National Museum of the Air Force is a tribute to those who overcame discrimination and persevered against adversity to become one of the greatest fighter groups in U.S. history.

Brown reflected on the importance of their accomplishments, “Their progress is what made it possible for me to stand here today as the 22nd Air Force chief of staff.”

He continued to explain how the Tuskegee Airmen, such as Johnson, Fauntroy, and Lt. Col. Shelton Ware who attended the event, laid the groundwork for many Airmen to not only serve but to succeed and thrive in the military.