January 20, 2012 |
I REMEMBER thinking "The Help," for a civil rights movie, had an unseemly fixation on fashion and furnishings. Because, I guess, I'm a dude. Watching "Red Tails," a World War II movie about the proto-civil rights heroes known as the Tuskegee Airmen, I certainly didn't mind that it was also a movie about really cool airplanes. Doing really cool things, such as flying head-to-head against the German Me 262s, the world's first combat fighter jets, part of Adolf Hitler's growing arsenal of game-changing weapons that the Tuskegee pilots helped destroy before those weapons could alter the balance of war. In doing so, they helped to free the world from delusional master race ideology - ironic, since the black fighter pilots of the 332nd Fighter Group had to fight racism at home in order to earn the right to kill Nazis over Italy, France and Germany.
July 18, 2008 |
Seventeen-year-old Eugene J. Richardson Jr. had been interested in aviation his whole life, but realized actually flying was a real long shot. As an African American, he had little chance of getting to fly in the military, which was the way to go, considering that World War II was raging. Then one day, what seemed like bad luck turned into good fortune. Richardson was riding in a truck, helping his driver/partner deliver jukeboxes in Center City. The driver got into a fender bender and the white policeman who stopped them asked for IDs. "Usually, you produced a draft card, but I was only 17 - the draft started at 18 - and I didn't have one," said Richardson, now a retired Philadelphia teacher and principal.
January 24, 2012 |
Looks like Red Tails , George Lucas' World War II biopic about the Tuskegee Airmen, made $19 million over the weekend. Decent, considering its limited opening in the dreaded dead zone between Christmas and the Oscars. I wasn't going to let ho-hum reviews stop me from seeing it. If anything, I went to honor men like Maj. John L. Harrison, one of the 320 surviving airmen (out of about 900) to receive a Congressional Gold Medal in 2007. Harrison saw it, too, and liked it. "I thought it was a superior depiction of aerial combat.
June 5, 2004 |
Their record is unsurpassed in American military history: 200 escort missions over Europe during World War II, not a single bomber lost to enemy aircraft. In the sky - and even in secondhand fighters - the Tuskegee Airmen were tops. On the ground, their high-altitude heroics done, they were soldiers of color, segregated and shunted aside. Today, 60 years later, surviving airmen and others who work to keep their legacy alive will cap a weeklong salute in the Philadelphia region with a day in their honor at the World War II air show in Reading.
July 3, 1993 |
There was both ceremony and a chance to renew old ties as members of the Tuskegee Airmen were honored at Northeast Philadelphia Airport yesterday on the 50th anniversary of the first African-American pilot's destruction of a German fighter. Luther Smith (left), who flew 133 missions and was a POW, stands during the ceremony, and Roscoe Draper, a former flight instructor, greets wives of airmen. The Tuskegee Airmen were part of an experiment that led to the eventual desegregation of the armed services.
November 11, 2011
In a moving scene from a new documentary about the Tuskegee Airmen, African American pilots stage a peaceful sit-in at an all-white military facility. Their courage, and the battles they fought during World War II both on the battlefield and at home, are recounted in Double Victory, filmmaker George Lucas' attempt to promote more awareness of the Tuskegee Airmen. The film's release on Veteran's Day, and coinciding with the 70th anniversary of the airmen's first class of cadets, is fitting.
July 27, 2006 |
Elmore M. Kennedy Jr., 90, one of the dwindling number of Tuskegee Airmen who served during World War II, died of complications of a stroke July 22 at Christiana Hospital in Newark, Del., near the home of his niece, Kim McKinnie. He lived in West Philadelphia. "Dr. Kennedy was a visionary who believed we had a responsibility in our community to uplift people," said Tess Spooner, president of Tuskegee Airmen Inc. "He was a diplomat, a teacher and a scientist with compassion who brought calm to every situation.
November 13, 2012
Retired Lt. Col. Herbert Eugene Carter, 95, one of the original Tuskegee Airmen who broke color barriers in World War II, has died. Tuskegee Mayor Johnny Ford said Mr. Carter died Thursday afternoon at East Alabama Medical Center. The Tuskegee Airmen were the first black aviators in the U.S. military. During World War II they were trained as a segregated unit in central Alabama at Tuskegee Institute, now Tuskegee University. Mr. Carter was in the first group that trained for the 99th Fighter Squadron.
January 11, 2000 |
Until yesterday, 15-year-old Dave Rosner had never heard of the Tuskegee Airmen, the first African American pilots to serve in the U.S. military. He learned the story of the 99th Fighter Squadron of World War II when retired Maj. Bernard Proctor, former third in command of the unit, visited the Haverford School and spoke to 310 students in ninth through 12th grades. Rosner, a sophomore, said he was impressed by the courage of the soldiers, but most of all by how long they were denied their rights.
December 12, 2009 |
Luther H. Smith Jr., 89, who flew 133 missions in Europe as a Tuskegee Airman before being captured near the end of World War II, died Wednesday at Bryn Mawr Hospital. Capt. Smith, of Villanova, survived the war to have a long career as an aerospace engineer for General Electric Co. His death was attributed to complications from an infection. "My personal good fortune took a turn, on Friday, Oct. 13, 1944," he wrote in 2001. That day, the engine of his P-51 Mustang caught fire, and he bailed out over Yugoslavia.