Tag Archives: Tuskegee Airmen

Tuskegee-Airmen

Get Off Your Knees and Honor Your Country!

Next weekend, our country will again be commemorating Veterans Day.  Yes, November 11 is once again upon us.  Most everyone knows why the holiday is celebrated on November 11.  World War I hostilities ended on the 11th day of the 11th month at 11:00 AM in the year 1918.  An armistice was finally reached and recognized the ending of a war that truly had countries from most every continent involved.

On November 11, 1919, President Woodrow Wilson issued a message to his countrymen on the first Armistice Day.  It was a passionate speech about what was sacrificed in order to win that war.  But Veterans Day did not begin in 1919, as a matter of fact, neither did Armistice Day.  The United States Congress adopted a resolution on June 4, 1926, requesting that President Calvin Coolidge issue annual proclamations calling for the observance of November 11 with appropriate ceremonies.  But…A Congressional Act finally approved on May 13, 1938, made the 11th of November in each year a legal holiday: “a day to be dedicated to the cause of world peace and to be thereafter celebrated and known as ‘Armistice Day.”  So there you have it.  The war ended in 1918, a speech was made in 1919, a recommendation was made for celebration in 1926, and finally, yes, finally it was made a national holiday in 1938.  (19 years, and we want tax cuts by Christmas!  I digress)

(William Armstrong, James Calhoun, John Chavis, Samuel Jefferson)

But another large scale happening occurred, which ultimately became known as World War II.    In 1945, a veteran from Alabama, Raymond Weeks, had the idea to expand Armistice Day to celebrate all veterans, not just those who died in World War I.  He took his idea to then General Dwight Eisenhower.  Again, with the speed of a snail, it took until May 26, 1954 for a bill to be signed which would recognize all veterans, from both world wars on Armistice Day.  But just days later, on June 1, 1954, Congress amended the bill replacing ‘Armistice Day’ with ‘Veterans Day,’ and it has been know as Veterans Day since.

Regardless of what we call the November 11 holiday, we Americans oftentimes forget about the sacrifices that have been made to protect this great nation.  For instance, during World War I, America lost 63,100 people in combat fighting in Europe.  Thus the origination of the holiday.  In World War II, 419,400 American service people lost their lives defending this nation in particular, but also protecting the world from the tyranny of the Axis Powers.  During both World Wars,  American men and women were killed.   People representing  all the races living in the United States were also killed.  For informational purposes, 36,516 American lives were lost fighting in the Korean Conflict.  Viet Nam was responsible for 58,209 American lives lost.  All of the Islamic terroristic fighting that has taken place in Iraq, Afghanistan and in other countries where we are attempting to wipe out Islamic terrorism have accounted for about 9000 lost American lives.  If you are a ‘big picture’ person, let it be known that since our initial fight for independence for Britain in 1775, it is estimated that over 1,354,600 people have lost their lives to defend (and create) this country.

(Maurice Esters, Samuel Foreman, Joseph Gordon, Oscar Hutton)

So, in recognition of this very special day, Veterans Day, I would like to recognize one amazing group of people for their heroics and actions during World War II.  This particular group was a unit within the Army Air Corps.  To best describe the unit, let me relate their war accomplishments:

  1.  1578 combat missions, 1267 for the Twelfth Air Force, 311 for the Fifteenth Air Force
  2.  179 bomber escort missions, losing bombers on only seven missions and a total of only 27,    compared to an average of 46 among other 15th Air Force P-51 groups
  3.   112 enemy aircraft destroyed in the air, another 150 on the ground and 148 damaged
  4.   950 rail cars, trucks and other motor vehicles destroyed (over 600 rail cars)
  5.   One destroyer put out of action, 40 boats and barges destroyed.

This unit was not without recognition.  During its wartime experience, it received the following awards and decorations:

  1.  Three Distinguished Unit Citations
  2.   One Silver Star
  3.   96 Distinguished Flying Crosses to 95 Airmen
  4.   14 Bronze Stars
  5.   744 Air Medals
  6.   8 Purple Hearts

(Charles Johnson, Samuel Leftenant, Andrew Maples, James L. McCullin)

Have you figured out which unit I am describing?  I am sure that some of my military history friends have already figured it out, but let me be more descriptive.  I am describing the 99th Pursuit Squadron, the 99th Fighter Squadron, and the 332nd Fighter Group with its three Fighter Squadrons, the 99th, 100th and 301st Fighter Squadrons.  There you have it!  Still no recognition?  What if I were to tell you that these were the units of the Tuskegee Airmen, the all black aviators of World War II.  They were also known as the ‘Red Tails’ because of the distinctive red on their rudders and on the red stripes on the  noses of their airplanes.  Now do you know who they were?

This was a truly remarkable unit.  In all, 992 black pilots were trained in Tuskegee from 1941-1946.   355 of these pilots were deployed overseas, and 84 lost their lives in accidents or combat.  The toll included 68 pilots killed in action or accidents, 12 killed in training and non-combat missions and 32 captured as prisoners of war.

What makes these people exceptional, other than their war fighting skills, is that the Tuskegee Airmen were the first African-American military aviators in the United States Armed Forces.  During World War II, black Americans in many US states were still subject to the Jim Crow laws and the American military was racially segregated, as was much of the federal government.  The Tuskegee Airmen were subjected to discrimination, both within and outside the army.  And yet, they volunteered to defend this country and defeat the tyranny of the Axis Powers.

So let me put this in a clearer perspective.  These people, from this unit were considered second class citizens, they were discriminated against on a daily basis, and yet they gladly volunteered to fight for the United States and die for a country that had not treated them the best it could.  But yet, they were on their knees to God, and on their feet, at attention, saluting the flag.

Where has this country gone wrong?  We have black and white over-indulged athletes taking a knee during the playing of the national anthem.  We have rap artists with album covers showing the death of the POTUS.  Yet, there is not one of these black entertainers or black athletes that ever, ever faced the discrimination that was prevalent during World War II and what the Tuskegee Airmen faced.  So, for clarification I need to ask the question that is on the minds of most Americans……“What the hell is your beef?”  Can you verbalize it, as I have not heard an intelligent answer.  And, if as I suspect, you cannot verbalize your beef, my next question is. “What the hell is your problem?”

I keep hearing this gibberish about the lack of respect.  If that is truly what this whole little charade is about, let me be perfectly clear about expressing the thoughts of the majority of Americans:

  1.  Americans love fun and games and entertainment.  We especially love them because they provide us with a diversion from our everyday lives.  It is our way of ‘taking a trip without leaving the farm.’  We do not want the people who provide us with this entertainment to begin using their platform to advance some cockamamie  form of political correctness, social injustice, or advancing some b.s. political message or cause.
  2.  Don’t think for one nanosecond that your disrespect for our flag, our anthem, our country and the people who protect it is going to garner one drop of respect for whatever your cause may be.  If your cause is to irritate and piss off the American public that pays your exorbitant salary…you have succeeded.  We do not think of you as geniuses.  You are entertainers, and very disrespectful at that!  You not only exhibit disgrace for this country, but for your ancestors that have made the ultimate sacrifice.  Your ability to run off at the mouth has been paid for by their blood.
  3. If you need to demonstrate your opinions, do it on your own time.  Your employer does not need to support your negative behavior.

I highlighted the accomplishments of the Tuskegee Airmen because of what they did and the adversity they faced in realizing these accomplishments.  I have the utmost respect for these honorable men.   I  respect and revere all of those individuals that have placed their lives at risk to protect this great nation.

The best advice I have heard lately?  “It is time for this nation to stand at attention in front of the flag, and to take a knee in front of God.”  Veterans Day gives us this opportunity.

Oh, I almost forgot.  Those names that are placed between the paragraphs?  Those are names of Tuskegee Airmen that made the ultimate sacrifice fighting for our great nation.  Those NFL knee takers would be wise to crack open a history book and really learn what duty, honor, and country meant to the real heroes, under the most adverse circumstances.

God Bless America and those people who have protected it, past and present.

(PS.  There have been calls for an NFL boycott next weekend.  You knee benders may just be surprised when America demonstrates its disdain for your actions.   Maybe you will get the message when NFL revenues decline….along with your privileged salary.)