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Aging Tuskegee Airmen Suit Up, Seek to Inspire Former Unit in Iraq
Associated Press ^ | Oct 22, 2005 | Samira Jafari

Posted on 10/22/2005 3:37:17 AM PDT by Jet Jaguar

TUSKEGEE, Ala. (AP) - Lt. Col. Herbert Carter is 86 years old and ready for deployment.

More than 60 years after his World War II tour with the pioneering black pilots known as the Tuskegee Airmen, Carter's new mission will be shorter, though no less courageous.

Carter is one of seven aging Tuskegee Airmen traveling this weekend to Balad, Iraq - a city ravaged by roadside bombs and insurgent activity - to inspire a younger generation of airmen who carry on the traditions of the storied 332nd Fighter Group.

"I don't think it hurts to have someone who can empathize with them and offer them encouragement," he said.

The three-day visit was put together by officials with the U.S. Central Command Air Forces to link the legacy of the Tuskegee Airmen with a new generation.

"This group represents the linkage between the 'greatest generation' of airmen and the 'latest generation' of airmen," said Lt. Gen. Walter Buchanan III, commander of the Air Forces command, in an e-mail to The Associated Press.

The retired Airmen who will make the trip - five pilots, a mechanic and a supply officer - shrugged off the dangers of Iraq, saying they have stared down the enemy before. Some fought in Korea and Vietnam as well as World War II.

Current members of the 332nd, redesignated as the 332nd Air Expeditionary Group in 1998, include men and women of different backgrounds and races.

But the black retirees said they are thrilled that a group still fights within their 332nd lineage, regardless of skin color.

"I'm proud they're in a unit carrying our name," said Charles McGee, 82, a retired colonel whose 409 combat missions is an Air Force record. "That's very meaningful from the heritage point of view."

The original Tuskegee Airmen were recruited in an Army Air Corps program created to train blacks to fly and maintain combat aircraft during World War II - though some of the retired Airmen say it was really designed to try to prove that blacks were incapable of flying and fighting.

Even after the first group completed pilot training in March 1942, they were not allowed to fly for more than a year.

"My status as a Negro bordered on second-class citizenship and the military simply reflected the culture of the time," Carter recalled in a recent interview. "If you were a Negro, you were a Negro in either setting."

Eventually, the black airmen flew escort for bombers. They were credited with shooting down more than 100 enemy aircraft and never losing an American bomber under escort to enemy fighters. In all, 992 pilots were trained in Tuskegee from 1940 to 1946. About 450 deployed overseas and 150 lost their lives in training or combat.

The trip to Iraq brings new recognition to the trailblazing team celebrated in a 1995 HBO movie, "The Tuskegee Airmen."

Maj. Anthony Robinson of Shaw Air Force Base, S.C., who spearheaded the trip for the seven, said the group in Iraq is looking forward to hearing the Tuskegee Airmen's stories.

Only about 100 Tuskegee Airmen are still living. Several surviving members said they would make the trip to Iraq if health issues did not stand in their way.

They said they would continue to speak to current units, schools and public officials to ensure their legacy stays alive years after they are gone.

"I think everything should be done to pass their story to future generation of Americans," said Ted Johnson, 80, who graduated from the Advanced Flight School in 1945 and is considered one of the youngest Tuskegee Airmen.

"It was the Tuskegee Airmen who made America come to its senses," he said, "that individuals should be judged on their accomplishments, rather than their ethnicity and color."

AP-ES-10-22-05 0304EDT


TOPICS: Extended News; Foreign Affairs; Government; US: Alabama; War on Terror
KEYWORDS: airmen; armyaircorps; aviation; balad; blackhistory; herbertcarter; iraq; oif; patriots; samirajafari; tuskegee; tuskegeeairmen; usaf; wwii

1 posted on 10/22/2005 3:37:18 AM PDT by Jet Jaguar
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To: Jet Jaguar

2 posted on 10/22/2005 3:39:07 AM PDT by Jet Jaguar
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To: Jet Jaguar

That was the best movie HBO has ever produced.


3 posted on 10/22/2005 3:48:12 AM PDT by mainepatsfan
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To: Jet Jaguar

How uplifting to read this.


4 posted on 10/22/2005 3:49:52 AM PDT by Dustbunny (Main Stream Media -- Making 'Max Headroom' a reality.)
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To: Jet Jaguar
They were credited with shooting down more than 100 enemy aircraft and never losing an American bomber under escort to enemy fighters.
That is their unique claim, and a proud one. After all, protecting the bombers and their crews was the reason they were there. What good would it have done to have shot down one more enemy plane - or five of them - at the cost of an American bomber??

5 posted on 10/22/2005 4:14:07 AM PDT by conservatism_IS_compassion (The idea around which liberalism coheres is that NOTHING actually matters but PR.)
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To: Jet Jaguar
While Hollywood can mix up and twist anything in history still some good movies to show kids during Black History Month are The Tuskegee Airmen and Glory.

The history of blacks in American History is scattered and piecemeal. Any war that the US fought in yields many stories of the sacrifice of black Americans.

Almost lost to history is the service of the black Regiment from New York, NY that served with the French during the Great War.

No disrespect meant to MLK but there is more to African American history in the US than him.
6 posted on 10/22/2005 4:36:26 AM PDT by PeteB570 (Panic don't get the job done)
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To: PeteB570

Nodding to that.


7 posted on 10/22/2005 4:37:22 AM PDT by Jet Jaguar
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To: Jet Jaguar

I met one of these pilots years ago and it is good to read that they are still being of service to this country.


8 posted on 10/22/2005 4:41:26 AM PDT by weegee (To understand the left is to rationalize how abortion can be a birthright.)
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To: Jet Jaguar
This subject always gets a burr under my saddle.

Our public school system runs the same worn out story every Black History month. Through in the Civil War and I go about nuts.

I'm in North Carolina and very few people know the North occupied most of the northern half of the coastal area for most of the war.

During the war (talking off the top of my head) something like 7 Regiments of USCT (United States Colored Troops) were raised from that area. They included Infantry, Artillery and Calvary. Not a word of that is talked about but where is the "Black Pride"?

Fayetteville, during the CW, had a large section of town that was full of free blacks who worked in professional trades of the day.

The history of the free blacks and those who served in the military has been buried beneath the issue of slavery by the race mongers of today.

How about the mass migration of blacks from the south to the major cities of the north? What were the causes and effects?

Black history in the US is as varied as the people it represents.
9 posted on 10/22/2005 4:49:48 AM PDT by PeteB570 (Histroy has to be looked for.)
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To: PeteB570

Through? How about throw.


10 posted on 10/22/2005 4:50:51 AM PDT by PeteB570 (Histroy has to be looked for.)
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To: PeteB570

I agree.


11 posted on 10/22/2005 4:56:55 AM PDT by Jet Jaguar
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To: PeteB570; 2Jedismom

I am a homeschooler.
Could you give me some references to these stories that I may use in February?

Maybe a ping to the HS lists?


12 posted on 10/22/2005 5:03:07 AM PDT by netmilsmom (God blessed me with a wonderful husband.)
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To: Jet Jaguar

Those guys are the greatest -- imagine all the obstacles they had to overcome. It is bad enough fighting a foreign enemy -- imagine if your own country is basically against you in addition to that.


13 posted on 10/22/2005 5:24:07 AM PDT by Wilhelm Tell (True or False? This is not a tag line.)
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To: netmilsmom

Harlem Hellfighters - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harlem_Hellfighters

Harlem Hellfighters is the popular name for the 369th Infantry Regiment, formerly the 15th New York National Guard Regiment. The unit was also known as The Black Rattlers, in addition to several other nicknames.


http://encarta.msn.com/list_blackmilitaryheroes/Black_Military_Heroes.html


14 posted on 10/22/2005 5:28:48 AM PDT by DUMBGRUNT (Sane, and have the papers to prove it!)
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To: netmilsmom
You can ask the local library for The Black Phalanx by Joseph T Wilson and Men of Color by William Gladstone.

A search of Bennie J McRae, Jr will bring up a number of Civil War links (some broken) on colored Regiments.

I've got to get to work and I'll get back with some more leads later.
15 posted on 10/22/2005 5:31:23 AM PDT by PeteB570 (History has to be looked for.)
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To: Jet Jaguar
www.tuskegeeairmen.org
16 posted on 10/22/2005 5:32:38 AM PDT by mewzilla (Property must be secured or liberty cannot exist. John Adams)
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To: DUMBGRUNT
You beat me to it. There was an article on them a while back in the American Legion magazine.
17 posted on 10/22/2005 5:33:25 AM PDT by PeteB570 (History has to be looked for.)
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To: PeteB570

Yes on "Glory", one of the best "war" movies EVER MADE.
No on "Tuskegee Airmen". Too simplistic and lousy dialogue.


18 posted on 10/22/2005 5:34:20 AM PDT by SJSAMPLE
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To: PeteB570; DUMBGRUNT

Thanks!


19 posted on 10/22/2005 5:51:02 AM PDT by netmilsmom (God blessed me with a wonderful husband.)
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To: Jet Jaguar

God bless them, both for their earlier service to this nation as well as their bravery in supporting the troops now.


20 posted on 10/22/2005 6:02:48 AM PDT by highlander_UW (I don't know what my future holds, but I know Who holds my future)
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To: mewzilla

Thanks for the link!


21 posted on 10/22/2005 6:04:43 AM PDT by Jet Jaguar
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To: DUMBGRUNT

I remember seeing a film in college on the black unit in WWI. They started out unloading ships for the AEF, and when they were finally allowed to go to the front, they were given to the French instead of fighting with American units. The French didn't care about what color they were since they desparately needed fresh troops and they had used colonial troops from Africa since 1914. As I recall, the unit served well for the French, and was the only Allied unit to reach German soil before the armistice. They also had one of the best bands in any army since they were from Harlem and and had many Jazz musicians in their ranks.


22 posted on 10/22/2005 6:14:33 AM PDT by yawningotter
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To: Big Giant Head

Tuskegee Airmen ping. :)


23 posted on 10/22/2005 6:33:02 AM PDT by Marie Antoinette (Due any day now with baby #8!)
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To: Jet Jaguar

None tougher.
None cooler.
None more effective.

Read about this guy here. His name is Lt. Weathers, and he downed two German aircraft within a few minutes of each other, then got chewed out for "going after enemy aircraft for personal glory!".

(steely)

24 posted on 10/22/2005 6:34:57 AM PDT by Steely Tom (Fortunately, the Bill of Rights doesn't include the word 'is'.)
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To: yawningotter

Plus they didn't have that pesky French habit of saying "I surrender" in response to any question. ;-)


25 posted on 10/22/2005 6:37:17 AM PDT by kennedy ("Why would I listen to losers?")
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To: Steely Tom

Bump to that!


26 posted on 10/22/2005 6:37:47 AM PDT by Jet Jaguar
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To: PeteB570
You make several excellent points.

The reason why is simple, yet sad. There's no money to be made from this truth.

The so called black leaders of today the MSM has annointed are extortionists for the liberal Democrat Party.

The real history is of little use to them, unless it can be applied as leverage for a contribution.

27 posted on 10/22/2005 6:40:20 AM PDT by airborne (Al-Queda can recruit on college campuses but the US military can't!)
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To: Valin; Dog; Coop; F14 Pilot

pong


28 posted on 10/22/2005 6:47:56 AM PDT by nuconvert (No More Axis of Evil by Christmas ! TLR) [there's a lot of bad people in the pistachio business])
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To: airborne; All
Dang, Airborne, I thought you were going to chastise me for forgetting the Triple Nickels, the 555th Airborne Infantry Regiment. A bunch of those guys are still here in the Fort Bragg area.

Also we can throw in the Tank Destroyer Battalions of WW II, one of which had a book written about it with Michael Jordan as the coauthor.

Then there are the 4 Regiments, 2 Cav/2 Inf, of Buffalo Soldier fame who fought and died in the western expansion of our country. One regiment of which, charged up Kettle Hill in Cuba with Teddy and his Rough Riders. Black Jack Pershing got his start with them.

But why bother. If today's blacks want to claim their only history is slavery and then oppression by the white man well fine, let them stew in their own juices.

Me? I'll read every story about black history that comes my way because I love reading about all the history of this country, the good and the bad..
29 posted on 10/22/2005 8:04:43 AM PDT by PeteB570 (History)
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To: PeteB570

OOOhhhhhh man, how could I forget the Red Ball Express?

Tons of the drivers were black service troops, old B/W movie out there somewhere. Without them the race across France would have been stopped dead without supplies.


30 posted on 10/22/2005 8:09:27 AM PDT by PeteB570 (History)
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To: Professional Engineer; snippy_about_it; SAMWolf; alfa6

foxhole ping?


31 posted on 10/22/2005 8:23:05 AM PDT by Samwise (The media is "stuck on stupid.")
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To: PeteB570

"The history of blacks in American History is scattered and piecemeal."

If you meany the representation of history in the public sphere,then I agree, but if you mean actual events, I disagree in the strongest possible terms.

From the very first casualty of the struggle that became the American Revolution, Crispus Attucks, to the The First Rhode Island regiment, an all black unit in Washington's Army, to The Twenty Sixth U. S. Infantry Regiment in the War of 1812, to Joe, William Travis' slave and survivor of the Alamo, to various freedmen in the Mexican War, to the 24 black soldiers awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor in the Civil War, to the 10th Calvary battling with Geronimo and later under John "Black Jack" Pershing charging up San Juan Hill in the Spanish American War, to the 171 winners of the Croix De Guerre in WWI, to units like the Tuskegee Airmen and The 761ST Tank Battalion, known as the Black Panther Tank Battalion, that landed on Omaha Beach and later fought under George Patton, there is plenty of Black History within the greater context of American History. A person doesn't have to read crazy stories about jet aircraft flying around the pyramids to learn Black History, be it in February or any other month.


32 posted on 10/22/2005 8:39:44 AM PDT by SoCal Pubbie
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To: Jet Jaguar

Tuskegee Airmen & Buffalo Soldiers BUMP!

33 posted on 10/22/2005 8:50:34 AM PDT by Bender2 (Even dirty old robots need love!)
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To: PeteB570
"They included Infantry, Artillery and Calvary."

That is "Cavalry", if you please.

34 posted on 10/22/2005 8:58:35 AM PDT by Redleg Duke (9/11 - "WE WILL NEVER FORGET!")
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To: PeteB570
Dang, Airborne, I thought you were going to chastise me for forgetting the Triple Nickels, the 555th Airborne Infantry Regiment.

Darn, you sure know your history! I was in from 78-81, 11B (jump & hump)

If today's blacks want to claim their only history is slavery and then oppression by the white man well fine, let them stew in their own juices.

Not all are like that. Just the ones the MSM give any notice to.

35 posted on 10/22/2005 9:02:27 AM PDT by airborne (Al-Queda can recruit on college campuses but the US military can't!)
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To: SoCal Pubbie
Got a late start on this thread?

Yes, I was referring to the way most people of today look at it.

Some History records the charge as up San Juan Hill while it was really Kettle Hill, next to San Juan Hill.

As a historical side note. While the US forces gathered in FA it was the black regular troops who were noted for their clean and orderly camps. The volunteers lagged far behind in camp life.
36 posted on 10/22/2005 9:17:26 AM PDT by PeteB570 (Guns, what real men want for Christmas)
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To: Samwise

thanks for the ping


37 posted on 10/22/2005 9:49:53 AM PDT by Professional Engineer (It might be Waterloo, but Delay is Wellington.)
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To: Samwise; Professional Engineer; snippy_about_it; SAMWolf
Saturday break in the sleep pattern Bump for the Red Tailed Mustangs.

Regards

alfa6 :>}

38 posted on 10/22/2005 11:10:12 AM PDT by alfa6 (Work....the curse of the drinking class.)
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To: alfa6

Oooo, a B model, my favorite. ;-)


39 posted on 10/22/2005 11:14:13 AM PDT by Professional Engineer (It might be Waterloo, but Delay is Wellington.)
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