The Tuskegee Airmen were a segregated group of African American Army Air Corps cadets, personnel, and support staff. Known as the all-black 332nd fighter group, there were originally four separate squadrons that made up the group: the 99th, the 100th, the 301st, and the 302nd. 12 Arkansans performed and trained at the Tuskegee Institution in Alabama. Around 992 pilots were trained at the institution, 450 saw action and 4 of them were native Arkansans. The airmen flew about 312 missions and 179 of them were bomber escorts. These men only lost 7 bombers totaling only 27 aircraft throughout June 1944-April 1945. Other American bomber escorts groups lost an average of 46 men. Setting themselves apart, Tuskegee Airmen flying the Mustang P–51 would paint their tails red, so bomber crews recognized friendly aircraft. Milton Pitts Crenchaw was the first African American Arkansan to be certified as a civilian licensed pilot in 1939. A supervising squadron commander of the Tuskegee men till 1946, from 1947-1953 he helped establish and guide the aviation program at Philanders College in Little Rock. In 1998, Crenchaw was inducted into the Arkansas Aviation Hall of Fame and by 2007 he was a member of the Arkansas Black Hall of fame as an influential Tuskegee instructor and fighter. Crenchaw is recognized nationally for his service to the country, Arkansas PBS interviewed him as a man of distinction (click here to watch). Woodrow W. Crockett, also an Arkansas Tuskegee airman, became a second lieutenant in 1943 allowing him to serve in both the WWII and the Korean conflict. After 30 years of service, 520 combat hours, and over 5,000 hours of flight time, Crockett retired in 1970. By 1992 he was inducted into the Arkansas Aviation Hall of fame and in 1995 became a member of the Arkansas Black Hall of Fame. The Tuskegee Airmen were awarded the Congressional Gold Medal, making them the largest group to win the award. In Alabama between Montgomery and Atlanta, there is a museum at the Moton Field Airport to honor the Tuskegee Airmen open to the public. The legacy of the Tuskegee airmen lives on through the newly established Tuskegee Airmen National Historic Site Quarter released in 2021. The Quarter shows a Tuskegee Airman gearing up to fight in WWII with Moton Field and P-51 Mustangs in the background.
The inscription reads, “They fought two wars” in reference to the racial discrimination faced at home and fascism overseas. And, I would say in conclusion, that they gained the victory in both.
(Picture from https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/obituaries/decorated-tuskegee-airman-and-retired-air-force-lt-col-woodrow-w-crockett-dies/2012/09/09/01ac7574-fa94-11e1-875c-4c21cd68f653_story.html)