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
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.
5 men received the silver wings of Army Air
Forces polots: George S. Roberts, Benjamin O.
Davis, Jr., Charles H. BeBow, Jr., Mac Ross, adn
Lemuel R. Custis
completed standard Army flight clasroom
completed many hours of flying time
marked milestone in US military Aviation
first African-Americans to qualify as military pilots
in any branch of the armed forces
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
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
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
• 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
• 150 Distinguished Flying Crosses earned
• 744 Air Medals
• 8 Purple Hearts
• 14 Bronze Stars
Airmen Overview. 2000. Web. 25 Mar. 2010.
History. Tuskegee Airmen, Inc., 2006. Web. 25 Mar. 2010.
Tuskegee Airmen Facts. Tuskegee University, 2010. Web. 25 Mar.
Tuskegee Airmen of World War II. 15 May 2007. Web. 25 Mar. 2010.
Tuskegee Airmen-A Salute to The "RED TAILS" Web. 25 Mar. 2010.