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Here are more comments and stories shared with me in the past months. Thank you all for your wonderful and inspiring contributions! Click on different sections to view subsequent Tuskegee Archives.
- I am a Lieutenant in the U.S. Air Force and I must have seen the "Tuskegee Airmen" at least 100 times. It is such a sad yet triumphant story. The black airmen had something to prove and by God they proved it! I am honored and proud to say that I serve in the footsteps of brave warriors such as your father. We ALL owe our freedom, our pride and honor to great people like your father. From the bottom of my heart and soul, I thank your family for our freedom. Bruce Lotarski
- I am a training cadet pilot with south african airways (SAA). SAA, for the past 40-50 yrs has never had any black pilots. With our recently found democracy, it was decided that the airline has to start to represent the demography of the country and, of course, start to behave like an african airline. We (12) have been selected as front runners to be amongst the first black airline pilots in south africa. We are busy training in australia and we have found that flying is seen very much as a 'white profession' today. We have had considerable difficulty coping with the course due to racial matters. Our favourite movie of all time is the Tuskegee Airman. I am in shock that i am in contact with a descendant of one of the airman. Your dad, is an inspiration to all of us. He was a great man to fight the odds and win in those days. I just want to email you and just tell you that. Arthur Phaswana
- A few months ago by chance I saw the movie, "The Tuskegee Airmen" telling the story and the struggles of young African Americans who became fighter pilots during the second World War. This story facinates me because of my own family history. My Father was Leonard Victor Waters who became the first and only Aboriginal Fighter Pilot to serve in the Royal Australian Air Force during WWII. While there was an Aboriginal soldier who flew an Army helicopter during the Vietnam War, there has never been another Aboriginal Fighter Pilot to serve in the RAAF. I have been working with the Australian Defence Force (in particular the RAAF) to develop a program such as the program that your Father completed in the 1940's. I have also written my father's biography titled, "My Father the Flyer". I noted in your story that your father flew the P40. My Father flew the P40 Kittyhawk and his plane was ironically called "Black Magic". My Father was born on Euraba Aboriginal Mission which came under the then Aboriginal Welfare Protection Board. He was fortunate to achieve Year 8 education but went into the Air Force as a mechanical trainee. He went to night school to upgrade his skill to enable him to enter the Pilot Training Program. He graduated in July 1943. He served in Dutch New Guinea flying 95 missions and 55 sorties. He had many stories to tell and I am fortunate to have him on video talking about war service. My Father passed away on 24 August 1993, ironically 51 years to the day of his joining the RAAF. I would like to communicate further but a fierce storm is just hitting us here in Canberra Australia. I will email you again soon. My Name is Kim Orchard
- Dear Ms. Douglass, In WWII my Dad flew B-24s as a navigator with the 737th Squadron 454th Group 15th Air Force. When I was a boy he told me of the Black escort squadrons they sometimes flew with. Gleaming P-51s with red or checkerboard tails. He also told me of the abuse that went out over the radio and intercom when the squadrons of the 332nd were there. Those stories, and his respect for them made a lasting impression on me. I'd like to add my thanks to his for the Skill, Courage and Dedication to Duty shown by the brave American heroes of the 332nd. Their conduct and record in combat truly represented the highest standards and values of the Army Air Corps. So my thanks to your Dad and God Bless, Blair Garber
- I am watching the TV special on the Tuskegee Airmen and just had to take the time to say: Thank you, all of you, who served in this corp. I know that my life has been enriched by your service. Service that was given freely, in spite of the many barriers you had to overcome to give it. If even a fraction of the issues you faced are accurately portrayed in this movie, it is tremendous praise to your characters and to your families, that you fought and served so honorably and well. Thank you again, that your sacrifices were made to make the freedom we now enjoy possible. I can only pray that we are worthy of your gift. As a child of one of those who served, you are very right to be proud - thank you for sharing with many your Father.
- Phyllis, And a proud daughter you should be. We were and still are a difficult society to figure out. I recently heard of the Tuskegee Airmen story. The movie was fantastic. I hope id did your father and the rest of the men justice. Please pass along my deep appreciation to your father for his sacrifices and commitment to his country. Thank you Joseph P. Gomer. Bob G...
- Dear Sister: I enjoyed reading the tribute to your father and the rest of the brave and dedicated men who made up the Tuskegee Airmen. Our country has a lot to be thankful for and also thing in its past that are regrettable. War has a way of bringing out the best qualities in a person and it was certainly evident in the conduct and bravery shown by those great aviators. I am a white veteran and respecfully salute Major Gomer. Sincerely, Louis Martin
- Dear Phyllis, Today I just finished watching the movie about the Tuskegee Airmen. I have it but watched it anyway as it is one of my favorite movies, up there with 12 O'Clock High. I am a retire policemen from Pittsburg California, near San Francisco. I served in the peace time army in Germany in the 1950s, but have always respected and loved the G.I.s. We had a camp in our town during the war (Camp Stoneman), where I worked and shined shoes. My parents came from Mexico back then and everyone had to work. I now belong to the V.F.W., in nearby Brentwood. The reason I am writing was that around four years ago, I started writing poems about the military. Then I discovered that there were some heroes that I had not heard about. When I started researching about the Tuskegee Flyers, I was amazed with their record. Well in my writings, I wrote a poem about them and also Ruben Rivers, who was awarded the Medal of Honor (over fifty years later). If you would like a copy of the poems, just write back your address and I will be glad to send them to you. Frank R. Tiscareno, Oakley, California
- Dear Phyllis, What a great page. I'm sure your father is very proud of what you have done. As a white man I used to very proud of what I knew of black history. As I matured and aged I became aware that the more I learn, the less I know. Anyone who broadens my knowledge is appriciated. How stupid we have allowed ourselves to be. I've only known a few black people well in my life. Raised in the country I knew none until I went to High School. It was a private Catholic School and the only black person was there on scholarship. He was the top student in the school, we never met. In my two and one half years in Vietnam blacks and whites intermingled and acted as brothers, in my experience. Unfortunatly the moment we returned to the states everyone became cliquish asmost immediatly. Brotherhood was forgotten. I was very disappointed. Ah well! For what it's worth, during WWII my father was stationed in france. Somehow he got serperated from his unit and walked into an ambush. Out of nowhere a platoon of black soldiers appeared and saved him. My father never forgot and never tired of telling the story. Were my fatther still alive I'm sure he would enjoy your page as I do. Thank you and thank your father for me, please. With highest regards, Joe Roberts Vancouver, WA
- Tuskegee Airmen Carry Inspirational Message By MICHAEL BAKER. While most pilots dream of breaking the sound barrier, the Tuskegee Airmen broke through what many would consider an even tougher obstruction: the race barrier. How to succeed when the system is set up to defeat you is the message four members of the first all-black squadron of combat fighter pilots and crew tried to convey to nearly 300 fifth- and eighth-graders at Castaic Middle School on Thursday. "The thing I really want you to do is believe in yourself," said Louis Young, 76, a captain and navigator trained during World War II at a segregated facility in Tuskegee, Ala. "You have to think that you will always achieve, no matter what." Achieve is what the Tuskegee Airmen did. During World War II, about 450 Tuskegee Airmen fought over North Africa, Sicily and Europe. They destroyed 260 enemy planes, damaged 148 others and sank a German destroyer. No U.S. bomber was shot down while flying under the protection of the fighter group. But often the Tuskegee Airmen fought their toughest battles against the military establishment. The Pentagon did not allow black men to serve as fliers until 1943, and only then because the Allies were suffering huge losses against Nazi Germany. Joining Young in telling their stories were Sgt. Edward L. Brantley, 73, a crew chief; Warrant Officer Theodore R. Davidson, 72, and 2nd Lt. Roger Terry, a pilot. Terry spoke of how he was court-martialed for defying orders and going into a "white" officers club after being told that no "Negroes" were allowed. "We decided we wouldn't go to Uncle Tom's cabin," he said. "So we went to the white officers club and group by group we got arrested." But it was often the opposition the airmen faced that made them want to learn more and succeed. "When I got into the service I was [urged] not to pursue my interest in flying," Brantley told the group. "I was told I was not needed. I was not wanted. "All along your life you're going to run into obstacles," Brantley continued. "Be prepared to go around them and continue to your goal in another way." It was a message that many of the Castaic Middle School students, who gave the airmen a standing ovation, took to heart. "They're great," David Angeles, 14, said of the airmen. "They show us the importance of perseverance."
- Ms. Douglass: I believe that your father and the Tuskegee Airmen are true American heroes. I read about them over ten years ago. I was stunned, and overwhelmed by their story. I was also flabbergasted that they had gone unrecognized and unappreciated for so long. I am thrilled that they are finally getting the recognition they so greatly deserve. Their bravery, integrity and commitment defies comprehension. I have often wished I could personally express my appreciation to them, and listen to their stories when they get together. (That would be a true gathering of eagles! Wow!) Since it is not likely that I will ever be able to do that, please tell your father thanks, and that I, too, am proud of him, and awed by his courage. I am a Forest Service employee and general aviation pilot. If your father ever gets to Arizona, I would be honored to meet him and take him out to dinner. Thanks for creating this website! You must really love him. Sincerely, Mike Leonard, Prescott, AZ
- Hello Ma'am, My name is Sheila M. Johnson-Glover and I am currently deployed to Kuwait. I am African American and I am currently in the United States AIr Force. I have been in the military for 13 years. Today we were officially redesignated as the 332nd Air Expeditionary Group. I know this is the squadron that your father flew on and I am so proud to be affiliated under this command. During the ceremony, the Base Commander gave a brief history of the Tuskegee Airman and I felt honored and proud to be standing in formation honoring your father and many other African Americans who cut the race barrier for African Americans like me to become a part of the Armed Services. I was researching the Tuskegee Airman on the Internet and was just wondering if you can send me more information. Also if you could send me your address I can send you pictures of this glorious event. Attached is our official patch. Please feel free to email me back. My email address is firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you for your time. SSgt Sheila M. Johnson-Glover
- Dear Phyllis, I read your tribute page to your father with tears in my eyes. Perhaps the long overdue recognition of General Davis' service to America will make it more acceptable to laud the contributions of black servicemen/women. Thanks for your insight. Be well. Practice big medicine. Hal Newman, Director, Côte Saint-Luc Emergency Medical Services (Team EMS)
- Your tribute touched my heart. As the very proud daughter of a USAF colonel (retired after 32 years of service), I've long known about the Tuskegee Airmen and their remarkable accomplishments. I cried through most if not all of the movie about the Tuskegee Airmen. What a tragedy that they contributed so much and were treated so poorly. I thank every one of them for their service in defense of our country. It's no wonder you're as proud of your father as you obviously are; we should be proud of our heroes! Thank you for sharing your story. Sharon Bartholomew, Anaheim, California
- My grandmother's brother, Bob Perry, served in WWII as a tail gunner on a bomber (B-25, I think) flying out of Italy. I remember him gratefully describing the boldness and tenacity of the Tuskegee Airmen who escorted his plane. "You could tell," he said, "that they had something to prove."
- Hi, Phyllis. I'd like to share a little of my father's experience as a Tuskegee Airman. My father's name is Ivan James McRae, Jr. (age 75) who lives in Dix Hills, NY and he was a 2nd Lieutenant who co-piloted B-25 Mitchell Bombers during his days at Tuskegee. He was trained at a later stage of WWII so he never actually went overseas or into battle. His father (Ivan Sr.) was a proud Jamaican immigrant who convinced local NY congressmen to have my father accepted into the Tuskegee program during his college years at Columbia University (he eventually graduated at the top of his Mechanical Engineering class and was in the defense industry his whole career). While he has shared some of his experiences with me and my older brothers, he has never been a "conversationalist" so I have never gotten much out of him. However, he has kept in contact with a couple of Tuskegee colleagues over the years (one of which is the father of former NBA player James Edwards) and has attended several reunions. I believe the last one he attended was in San Francisco around 1986 or so. As a tribute to him back then, I built a model replica of a B-25 Mitchell Bomber which he still holds dear to him. He also has a number of squadron photos in his collection (he has been an avid amateur photographer over the years) and some day I'd like to make them available to any interested parties (if my father permits). It's definitely a proud history that should never be forgotten. Thanks and take care. As a side note, my mother (who is 50% Cherokee, 50% black & white) met my father during his Tuskegee training days while he was on weekend leave. He and a couple Tuskegee Airmen attended a party at all-women's Bennett College in Greensboro, NC where my mother was a student. The stories my mother tells (now she's a talker!) are quite entertaining re: their early dates and how strict the Dean of Bennett College was re: on-campus relationships. On another unrelated note, if you're familiar with the late Jazz singer Carmen McRae, she and my father were first cousins. Brian McRae (age 35), Sr. Technical Officer, Chase Manhattan Bank (New York, NY), email@example.com
- Dear Ms Douglass, A few months ago by chance I saw the movie, "The Tuskegee Airmen" telling the story and the struggles of young African Americans who became fighter pilots during the second World War. This story facinates me because of my own family history. My Father was Leonard Victor Waters who became the first and only Aboriginal Fighter Pilot to serve in the Royal Australian Air Force during WWII. While there was an Aboriginal soldier who flew an Army helicopter during the Vietnam War, there has never been another Aboriginal Fighter Pilot to serve in the RAAF. I have been working with the Australian Defence Force (in particular the RAAF) to develop a program such as the program that your Father completed in the 1940's. I have also written my father's biography titled, "My Father the Flyer". I noted in your story that your father flew the P40. My Father flew the P40 Kittyhawk and his plane was ironically called "Black Magic". My Father was born on Euraba Aboriginal Mission which came under the then Aboriginal Welfare Protection Board. He was fortunate to achieve Year 8 education but went into the Air Force as a mechanical trainee. He went to night school to upgrade his skill to enable him to enter the Pilot Training Program. He graduated in July 1943. He served in Dutch New Guinea flying 95 missions and 55 sorties. He had many stories to tell and I am fortunate to have him on video talking about war service. My Father passed away on 24 August 1993, ironically 51 years to the day of his joining the RAAF. I would like to communicate further but a fierce storm is just hitting us here in Canberra Australia. I will email you again soon. My Name is Kim Orchard.
- I visited your web page today. It will be bookmarked! You have done more than I have words to describe. So I will say "Thank You". Raymond E. Peters, Author "Black Americans In Aviation" c1974, Co-Founding Member, San Diego Ben. O. Davis Chapter, TAI, Inc.
- Dear Ms. Douglas, I very much enjoyed the article that you wrote as a tribute to your father. My father also was a WW-2 fighte pilot. He fought in the pacific theater for the 5th air force. Like your Dad, he much prefered the p-51 fighter ot all other combat air craft. Most of his squadron did not survive the was, and my dad came home on a hospital ship with injuries sustained during a crash landing. When you wrote your article, you honored your father to a degree that no other person can accomplish. He, like so many others, is an American hero. I have read several books about the Tuskegee Airmen, and I have had the opportunity to meet one: Robert Chandler of Allegan, Michigan. Mr. Chandler is a quiet spoken man, and hates to be called a hero. Your father is probably equally modest. The Tuskegee Airmen have finally been acknowledged by history. They were all heros. Best Regards, John Kobs
- Hi I am 16 and my grandfather also fought in the 100th squadron his name is Bob Ashby. I would like to tell you that you have a great page that gives the deserved respect to the Tuskegee airmen. Travis Ashby
- Hi there. I can't say too much, it's early in the morning and shortly will have to leave for work. The first time I ever heard of the Tuskegee Airmen was when I chanced upon the film of the same name starring Laurence Fishburn. It angers me that as a child, we as black people were never told of anything such as this, so I thank you for taking the time to put this together, as it fills me with pride to read of your Fathers exploits. Take care. RSam
- hi my name is dave. im a 14 yr old in toronto i read ur page about ur father and thought it was great! i think ur dad is a true hero and im glad to see u take pride in that :) i actually saw the movie about the tuskegee airmen it was beautifully done...... well....... i just thought i should give u credit for making the page =)
- Good morning to you! My name is John Powell and I live in Winterville, NC. My father was with the 15th airforce during WWII....he served with bombers before they ran out of targets then he switched to p51's working with weapons. He often mentioned the "red tails" in a fond way. I have always had an idea of their contribution to the war and am glad to see them get the recognition they deserve and their story told. as WWII has always interested me, I often get lost studying different facets for a few years before moving on...there is soooo much to cover. the fact that many WWII Vets are passing on...time to get to hear there stories is becoming critical. I would love to contact the surviving members that flew over the Italian skies with my father and am wondering if perhaps you can assist. I would be deeply indebted....Proud of my father too, John D. Powell, WWII history buff.
- Hi Phyllis! Please thank your father on my behalf. I and all North Americans owe him a debt of gratitude for the contributions and sacrifices he and the "Tuskegee Airmen" made. Thank you for..."freedom"! Sincerely, Scott A. Sagle CANADA
- Thanks to your father and your families for helping our country start to shed the evil rags of racism. I am a part white-part indian 61 year old ex Navy air traffic controller. I remember a black pilot coming into Midway Island flight planning in 1962 and I was astounded. The military took away my racist assumptions and I thank you and your father and yours for that. After my tour ...my wife and I had four children and now six grandchildren and racism has never been taught in our family. You see, I think the civil rights movement freed the bigoted from a far worse fate than it did those under subjection. God Bless and prosper men and women of good will! (I was moved by the C-span coverage and searched for the Airmen and found your site.) Jim Martin in Okla.
- Good bless your father and all those like him who paved the way for us with their suffering and sacrifice. Our generation should be forever thankful. A friend in sunny Spain. Norman Payne.
- Hello Ms. Douglass, I just wanted to say how impressed I am with your homepage "Tribute to My Father." I watched the movie "Tuskegee Airmen" several times. Being an African American myself it brought tears to my eyes. Tears of sadness and hurt for the racism that these heroic men were subjected too due only to the color of their skin. Tears of joy from the love and sense of pride that I felt from watching these skilled and educated men succeed in their missions. I want to express my gratitude to your father and his fellow airmen. They are truly our American Heroes. Opal in Washington, DC
- I was a helicopter pilot during Vietnam. I really appreciated this site. Never have so few accomplished so much with so little. I have been fascinated with the Tuskegee Airmen since I saw the movie. Thank you for such a wonderful tribute to a great man. Don Rawlinson, Dothan Alabama.
- Hi Phyllis, The tribute to your Father is the greatest use of the internet that I have seen to date. It brought tears of pride to my eyes that one would be so thoughtful, loving and talented to make such a tremendous tribute for all the world to see. Thank you and with warm regards, James C. Warren, Cl-44C, 619th Bomber Squadron, 477th Bomb Group. Author of the Freeman Field Mutiny.