They came from every section of the country, with large numbers coming from New York City, Washington, Los Angeles, Chicago, Philadelphia and Detroit. Each one possessed a strong personal desire to serve the U.S. at the best of his ability.
People who had the physical and mental qualifications were accepted for aviation cadet training and trained initially to be pilots, and later to be pilots, navigators, or bombardiers.
Most were college graduates or undergraduates. Others demonstrated their academic qualifications through comprehensive entrance examinations.
No standards were lowered for the pilots or any of the others who trained in operations, meteorology, intelligence, engineering, medicine or any of the other officer fields.
Enlisted members were trained to be aircraft and engine mechanics, armament specialists, radio repairmen, parachute riggers, control tower operators, policemen, administrative clerks and all of the other skills necessary to fully function as an Army Air Corps flying squadron or ground support unit.
Trained pilots because of its commitment to aeronautical training. It had facilities, engineering and technical instructors, and climate for year round flying. The first program finished in May 1940. As the program was expanded, it became the center for African American aviation in World War II.
Tuskegee University was awarded the U.S. Army Air Corps contract to help train America's first Black military aviators because it had already invested in the development of an airfield, had a proven civilian pilot training program and its graduates performed highest on flight aptitude exams.
Moton Field is named for Tuskegee University's second President, Dr. Robert R. Moton who served with distinction from 1915-1935. The Airmen were delpoyed during the presidential administration of Dr. Frederick Douglas Patterson (1935-1953).
The all-Black, 332nd Fighter Group consisted originally of four fighter squadrons, the 99th, the 100th, the 301st and the 302nd.
From 1940-1946, some 1,000 Black pilots were trained at Tuskegee.
The 99th Squadron distinguished itself by being awarded two Presidential Unit Citations (June-July 1943 and May 1944) for outstanding tactical air support and aerial combat in the 12th Air Force in Italy, before joining the 332nd Fighter Group.
The 332nd Fighter Group was awarded the Presidential Unit Citation for its longest bomber escort mission to Berlin, Germany, March 24, 1945. It destroyed three German ME-262 Jet fighters and damaged five additional jet fighters without losing any of the bombers or any of its own fighter aircraft to enemy fighters.
The 332nd Fighter Group had also distinguished itself in June 1944 when two of its pilots flying P-47 Thunderbolts discovered a German destroyer in the harbor of Trieste, Italy.
C. Alfred "Chief" Anderson earned his pilot's license in 1929 and became the first BlackAmerican to receive a commercial pilot's certificate in 1932, and, subsequently, to make a transcontinental flight.
Anderson is also well known as the pilot who flew Eleanor Roosevelt, wife of then-U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt, convincing her to encourage her husband to authorize military flight training at Tuskegee.
In 1948, President Harry Truman enacted Executive Order No. 9981 - directing equality of treatment and opportunity in all of the United States Armed Forces, which in time led to the end of racial segregation in the U.S. military forces.
The Tuskegee Airmen overcame segregation and prejudice to become one of the most highly respected fighter groups of World War II. They proved conclusively that African Americans could fly and maintain sophisticated combat aircraft. The Tuskegee Airmen's achievements, together with the men and women who supported them, paved the way for full integration of the U.S. military.
These airmen fought two wars - one against a military force overseas and the other against racism at home and abroad.
These highly trained military officers were treated as "trainees" and denied access to the base officers' club, an act contradictory to Army regulations.
The unfair treatment and hostility continued at Godman Field and in early 1945, the group was transferred to Freeman Field, Indiana where the hostilities finally reached a climax.
When black officers tried to enter the Freeman Field Officers' Club, against direct orders for them to stay out, one hundred and three officers were arrested, charged with insubordination and ordered to face court martial.
The court martial proceedings were quickly dropped against one hundred of the officers; two officers eventually had their charges dropped and one officer, Lt. Roger "Bill" Terry, was convicted.
After the war in Europe ended in 1945, black airmen returned to the United States and faced continued racism and bigotry despite their outstanding war record.
• Over 15,000 combat sorties (Including 6000+ for the 99th prior to July '44) • 111 German airplanes destroyed in the air • 150 German aircraft destroyed on the ground • 950 railcars, trucks, and other motor vehicles destroyed • 1 destroyer sunk by P-47 machine gun fire • Sixty-six pilots killed in action or accidents • Thirty-two pilots downed and captured, POWs • NO Bombers were ever lost to Enemy Aircraft while being escorted • 150 Distinguished Flying Crosses earned • 744 Air Medals • 8 Purple Hearts • 14 Bronze Stars