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The Tuskegee Airmen, the only African - American pilots to fight in World War II. In 1941,
The pressure was put on President Franklin D. Roosevelt to take positive actions in the
utilization of Negroes in the armed services. On March 7, 1942 the first five Negro
cadets were commissioned as pilots of the United State Air Force. While assigned with the
324th squadron, the 99th received its first aerial victory and many more victories were to
follow. The squadron earned the name "The Red Tail Angels," because of their red painted
tail wings and the reputation for staying with all the bombers they escorted, rather than
leaving them to chalk up kills for their own personal glory. The Squadron lost its first
airmen in a two-plane crash. Shooting down five German planes in one-day, lead to 332nd
Fighter Group being awarded the Distinguished Unit Citation for successfully escorting
bombers and for outstanding and aggressive combat techniques. The Tuskegee airmen made
history, a history that will forever and stand out in the annals of the United States. The
famed Tuskegee Airmen are renowned for their valor and courageous actions over the skies
of North Africa, Sicily and Western Europe during World War II. The African-American
aviators had proved the nation wrong in learning to fly, and were exceptional in World War

The flight of the Wright Brother in 1903 sparked enthusiasm for aviation, for many black
youth all over America. But racial hatred and discrimination was so deeply embedded in
America that many young blacks were excluded from the army's flight instruction program.
They were turned down by the Army Air Force, because there were no established black unit,
with any type of flight training, also officials used the excuse that blacks did not
appear to be interested in flying, nor did they have the mentality, aptitude, or the
reflexes to fly. Therefore, many black men enlisted into the armed services for menial
and subservient roles. This type of attitude and apathy on behalf of the federal
government and military officials, sparked anger in many black leaders, the press, and
white supporters. The pressure was put on President Franklin D. Roosevelt to take positive
actions in the utilization of Negroes in the armed services. On September 27, 1940,
President Roosevelt along with the Assistant Secretary of Robert P. Patterson, and
Secretary of the Navy, Frank Knox met with three black leaders. Phillip A. Randolph,
Walter White, and T. Arnold Hill, was to consider the roles of blacks in the armed
services. Following the conference, the War Department developed a policy that stated,
"All Negroes would be used in proportion to the total population of the armed services" .
It further stated that this "policy was not to intermingle colored and white enlisted
personnel in the same organizations" . The War Department stated that "the black leaders
supported, had agreed with the policy" . Consequently, black leaders

across the nation were outraged. Black leaders issued a statement to the war department
that they did not support a segregated unit. They also stated the "Official approval by
the commanding Chief of the Army and the Navy of such discrimination and segregation was a
stab in the back to democracy" . President Roosevelt rebutted the statement by the war
department which plain for the activation of segregated airfield and a black flying unit
was made, which was to be constructed in Tuskegee, Alabama. On March 21, 1941 the 99th
pursuit Squadron was activated as an experiment of the war department. The Tuskegee
Airmen, were the only African - American pilots to fight in World War II. In 1941, the
99th Fighter Squadron was established in Tuskegee, Alabama to train black pilots for the
War effort, military brass expected the "Tuskegee Experiment" Participants to prove
themselves unfit for anything but the lowest ranks of military service. There were also
the 100th, 301st, and 302nd Fighter Squadrons that made up the 332nd Fighter Group.
Instead the Tuskegee Airmen flew hundreds of successful missions over Sicily, North Africa
and Europe; eventually gaining the respect and admiration of the same officials whom had
questioned their ability and doubted their courage. On March 7, 1942, the first five
Negroes cadets were commissioned as pilots of the United State Air Force. Captain.
Benjamin O. Davis Jr. of Washington, DC who is the son of the Army's only Negro general,
General Benjamin O. Davis Sr. was one of the five. Some of the others who were
commissioned are Charles Debow of Indianapolis, Indiana and Mac Ross of Dayton, Ohio.
These five men would become the

nuclei of the United States Army Air Corps. The future of Negro youths that might dream
of becoming pilots rested upon their shoulders. After graduating the cadets were
transferred to the army airfield. Operations began under the command of Major James A.
Ellison who was allegedly removed for opposing local civil authorities. He was succeeded
by Colonel Frederick V. H. kimble a West Point graduates with 24 years flying experience.
He started the first functioning unit in the Army Air Corps. Colonel Kimble catered to
local prejudices and maintained segregation of air training; therefore, Colonel Noel F.
Parrish replaced him. Because of his understanding, patience, love for people, and ability
to carry out the policy of the war department without arousing much resentment, Colonel
Noel F. Parrish was elevated to the position of Commanding Officer of Tuskegee. Colonel
Benjamin O. Davis took command of the 99th Squadron on August 24, 1942 and by February
1943 it became apparent that the 99th would be going to combat. Colonel Davis who was one
of first five cadets to graduate, now in command, expressed confidence in the ability of
the squadron to be victorious in combat. Throughout the month of March, the squadron went
through intensive and rigorous training. Not just in aerial combat, but also in forced
marches and air base maintenance procedures. On April 2, 1943 the 99th Squadron departed
Tuskegee and headed for Camp Shanks in New York, which was the port of embarkation. Early
morning, April 15, the order came to board ship. This came sooner than many had

expected. "Approximately 4000 troops, whites and blacks, officers and enlisted men,
boarded a ship under the command of Colonel Davis and hoisted anchor" . Eight days

later they reached the port of debarkation where Colonel Alison of the Northwest Training
command met them. Equipped with 27 brand new P 40's they went through even more intense
training. The 99th was attached to the 33rd Fighter Group, which was stationed at
Fardjournal, under the command of Colonel William Monyer. On the morning of June 2, 1943,
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