Intermission (12) – Veterans of Tuskegee

Tuskegee-Airmen

Charles McGee was an accomplished World War II fighter pilot and Army Captain, was one of the most decorated pilots in the Tuskegee Airmen, the nation’s first all-black aviation unit. Their record during the war was one of the reasons Harry Truman decided to desegregate the U.S. military in 1948. McGee’s wartime record, however, did little to change his treatment when he returned home.

Aircraft engine lessons

Aircraft engine lessons

“Segregation still existed across the country,” he recalls. When he couldn’t get a job as a civilian, he decided to remain in the military. He ended up flying a record 409 combat missions in World War II, Korea, and Vietnam. Today, he’s not concerned about his personal legacy. “It’s not the personal recognition that I seek,” he says. “I want to pass on to the young people of today that you can’t let your circumstances be an excuse for not achieving.”

Tuskegee pilots

Tuskegee pilots

 McGee and fellow Airman George Hardy attended the unveiling of a P-51D Mustang – a plane many Tuskegee Airmen flew – that has been restored at the National World War II Museum. They will join Good Morning America‘s Robin Roberts to discuss the legacy of the Airmen. “What we accomplished flying the P51 was an important step in bringing about a change in the bias and generalizations that had been part of military policy,” George Hardy, 90, says.
WWII poster

WWII poster

Hardy enlisted in the Army when he was 17, in 1943. He graduated from training as a pilot and lieutenant in 1944. “We were segregated wherever we went,” he recalls. “Even on the ship, we took overseas.” Despite the negatives, the men set aside frustration and worked hard to prove themselves as airmen. “It wasn’t pleasant, but we didn’t look at the negative,” McGee says. “We looked at the positive, and that was we were given the chance to prove that that thinking was wrong.”

George Hardy

George Hardy

“It was a way of life as far as we were concerned,” adds Hardy. “It was not our job to fight segregation, it was our job to fly.” They became so respected as pilots that all-white bomber squadrons requested them as escorts during raids over Germany. “There had been a policy that said that black people could hold service positions but nothing technical,” McGee says. “We proved that to be erroneous.”

"Red Tails" movie

“Red Tails” movie

Despite their accomplishments, the legacy of the Tuskegee Airmen was not well known until they formed a national group in 1970. “At that time a lot of people in this country, even in the black community, didn’t know that black people had flown in World War II,” Hardy says. Hardy, McGee, and the other living airmen now travel the country to share their history and legacy and inspire the next generation. “I talk to a lot of groups around the country, especially kids, and let them know that even though you have obstacles you can work to overcome them,” Hardy says.

Tuskegee pilots

Tuskegee pilots

Information is mainly from WarHistoryOnline.

Click on images to enlarge.

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Military Humor –

military-humor-funny-joke-air-force-aircraft-survival-kit-pilot

pilots1ph

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes –

Joe Albarran – Capitola, CA; Merchant Marines, WWII

Glendale Betz – Bartlesville, OK; US Army, WWII, PTO, Captain, Field Artillerytribute

William Casey, Boston, MA; US Navy, WWII, 119th SeaBees, PTO

Donal Goniu – Mequon, WI, US Army, WWII, MSgt.

Frederick Gerow – Vernon, NY; US Navy, WWII, PTO USS Bennington

Robert Hollibaugh – Arkansas City, KS; US Army Air Corps, WWII

Jacob Kalfs – Waverly, OH; US Navy, WWII

Desmond Le Pard – Dorsett, ENG; RAF, WWII, ETO, 17th Battalion/Parachute Regiment

Henry Mandela Sr. – Derby, CT; US Army, WWII, SSgt.

Allen Noel O’Brien – Brisbane, AUS; AIF, WWII, PTO, 2/31st Battalion/7th Division, Sgt.

Alan Young – W.Vancouver, CAN; RC Navy, WWII, (actor)

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About GP Cox

Everett Smith served with the Headquarters Company, 187th Regiment, 11th A/B Division during WWII. This site is in tribute to my father, "Smitty." GPCox is a member of the 11th Airborne Association. Member # 4511 and extremely proud of that fact!

Posted on May 23, 2016, in Uncategorized, WWII and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 70 Comments.

  1. Another great story GP about a very special group of men.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Excellent tribute to the Tuskegee Airmen gp, Charles McGee must be recognized as a magnificent representative of America, would be interesting to read of his exploits in Vietnam, a man of considerable talent.
    Great post.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. If you haven’t been to Tuskegee Historic site in Alabama, it is worth a stop. Some nice history there.

    Like

  4. Thank you gentlemen. Truly men among men, and we are forever in your debt.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. GP, this is a great post!!!!
    OH, GP, I apologize for not coming by in such a long time, there really is no excuse for not stopping by to say HI to a Friend.
    But just so you know, my site grew to 2 sites and my help never grew, in fact she went back to school. My health took a bad turn, but I finally got myself back together.
    When I soloed in my early teens, a Mustang was all I ever wanted to fly and own in my off time. Funny thing how dreams of being a Fireman or whatever gets changed by Our Good Lord.
    GP, I think of you very often and you are in my prayers always,
    Robert

    Liked by 1 person

    • Robert, no problem – you visit when you can. We all have life interrupting us and priorities to take care of – who can not understand that?
      It is good to see you back and I’m glad you found the post interesting. I hope your health has improved.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Thank You GP, how you been getting along????
        I know my mind traveled way back in time just reading about the P-51, but GP, I didn’t even mention wanting to fly a Bi-Plane just one time.
        I’m about back to par, I appreciate you GP.
        Keep up the great work!!!!
        Robert

        Liked by 1 person

  6. GP – I just reblogged this post with the following comment: This is such an excellent post, I thought you might enjoy an extra one today. The history on this blog is very well researched. If you are interested in WWII history, follow pacificparatrooper.wordpress.com.
    I’m happy to help you spread the word about the truth of WW II.

    Like

  7. Reblogged this on "Greatest Generation" Life Lessons and commented:
    This is such an excellent post, I thought you might enjoy an extra one today. The history on this blog is very well researched. If you are interested in WWII history, follow pacificparatrooper.wordpress.com

    Like

  8. It’s a story we dont may forget and we must tell lwhat this brave men did

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Excellent post! Thank you for telling their story. It’s a great, rich part of history that often gets lost. It’s a story I wish more children knew. I think knowledge of this type of history could be used to counteract the poison poured into black children’s heads by the likes of Sharpton et al. They need to understand that the path has already been blazed by MANY who went before them (with worse obstacles) and see that they can enjoy success.

    I guarantee you that those men LOVED America, even with her faults. I know that from countless people like my parents, relatives and family friends who also grew up in a segregated society (when my dad’s ship docked in Hawaii, the white soldiers went to the local restaurants but the Black soldiers weren’t allowed so they had cookouts on the beach instead).

    The best known black leaders of today (and their bizarre cadre of white promoters) are divisive, vile human beings who transmit a narrative that has black children thinking they can’t be successful, it weakens instead of strengthens them…and it makes them hate their own country.

    Oh dear…I’m on my soapbox. Lol…
    (This is a subject I’ve thought a lot about. As a matter of fact my Dissertation was partially based on how your understanding of history, shapes who you become)

    Anyway. I loved reading this!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Glad you not only liked it, but found it interesting enough to get you up on your “soap box”. Very people do that anymore – all our politically correctness and such. Hate doesn’t do anyone any good!

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Wonderful post. These men were heroes in more ways than one.

    Like

  11. It is certainly a black mark on our history the way these men were treated. These guys were heroes. They should have been offered the keys to any city they chose.

    Like

  12. Great story! “you can’t let your circumstances be an excuse for not achieving” is such an important message. I wish it wasn’t still the case today, but…

    Liked by 1 person

  13. What a great story! Thanks for the post.

    Like

  14. An excellent post about some ground breaking men.

    Like

  15. Thank you for this. It’s a wonderful tribute to these veterans. I only wrote about one WW II vet but It’s also an important post. Keep them coming!

    Like

  16. Very interesting story. Love his positive attitude and dwelling on the positive and not the negative. I too was raised that you are an American!!

    Like

  17. What a great lesson, albeit learned in the crucible of reality.

    Liked by 1 person

  18. These men are inspiring!

    Like

  19. Reblogged this on charles french words reading and writing and commented:
    This post is very important!

    Like

  20. Several years ago my wife an I were lucky to attend an event at the Hiller Aviation Museum where one of the surviving Tuskegee men gave a talk and answered questions. It was a great afternoon and a very interesting look to hear this history first hand.

    Like

    • You were lucky, Andrew! I envy you and your experience. Is there anything you feel should have been added to this post’s article?

      Like

      • You covered it well. If I was to add anything it would be the sense of pride the airman had in his service and despite the obstacles, his desire to become a pilot. It’s just plain wrong that the segregation existed.

        Like

        • Of course it was wrong, but it did happen, and that’s what I’m here to report as a part of history. We don’t always like our past, but that doesn’t mean we can change or erase it. Thank you for helping to confirm the article, Andrew.

          Liked by 1 person

  21. It was quite a surprise for me to learn that segregation was practiced within the US air force during WW2. However, at some higher level of command someone must have allowed black men to be trained as pilots. So it is fair to say that military necessity at least in part helped to overcome racial prejudice. Thanks for another fine post, GP!

    Like

  22. Many Jamaicans who flew our planes would have similar stories of treatment

    Like

  23. I love stories about the early civil rights accomplishments by selfless individuals. They are very inspirational.

    Liked by 1 person

  24. I think it is best that we say, “I am human”. Disturbing and also enlightening post, thanks 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  25. I have seen both ‘Red Tails’, and ‘The Tuskegee Airmen.’
    http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0114745/
    They may not be a definitive history, but they are enjoyable, and well-made too.
    Thanks for highlighting the work of these brave men. They had a lot to overcome, as well as fighting in combat at the same time.
    Best wishes, Pete.

    Liked by 1 person

    • In the Intermission posts, I try to have at least one ETO story. Being as I’ve heard pilots give their thanks to the Red Tails for saving their lives – I felt it appropriate.
      Have a great day (take your insect repellent today!!)

      Like

  26. They were great pilots, and proved the value of treating different races equally. Even great military leaders like General Patton were beclouded by the ignorance of racism. I’ve read that he did not want to allow black soldiers to operate tanks, because he believed they lacked the coordination skills necessary for the job. It surprises me how backward the thinking was back then.

    Like

  27. Being a citizen of a country where racial segregation was enshrined in laws of parliament, and as a graduate anthropologist who supported and voted yes for change I really appreciated and understood this magnificent post. Well advanced in the years of the 70s I still hope one day to hear a prominent American who is black say “I am an American, not an alien called an African-American”. Thanks for this post.

    Liked by 3 people

    • I agree. I never understood that. I even asked my father when I was a kid who my ancestors were – should I say I’m Irish-English-German-American. He hit the roof and said, “If anyone asks – you’re American, period!”

      Liked by 2 people

    • Newsferret, I totally agree, but I’d like to see the day when the race card is no longer included in any deck of cards.
      The color of a Man doesn’t matter does it…. because as far as I know, there is no perfect race of people.
      Now you take this Man that writes all this information about Our kinfolk, that answered the call to put themselves in harms way for Our Country, so we could sleep safe all night, you might not think I have anything in common with GP Cox, but you would be wrong. But that is another story, Right GP????
      Robert StrongBow

      Liked by 1 person

  28. Thank you for stopping in here and reading.

    Like

  1. Pingback: Veterans of Tuskegee – The National Association for Black Veterans of America

  2. Pingback: Intermission (12) – Veterans of Tuskegee – Truth Troubles: Why people hate the truths' of the real world

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