The Tuskegee Airman were an elite group of African-American pilots in the 1940s. They were pioneers in equality and integration of the Armed Forces. The term ”Tuskegee Airmen” refers to all who were involved in the Army Air Corps program to train African Americans to fly and maintain combat aircraft. The Tuskegee Airmen included pilots, navigators, bombardiers, maintenance and support staff, instructors, and all the personnel who kept the planes in the air.
The primary flight training for these service members took place at the Division of Aeronautics of Tuskegee Institute. Air Corps officials built a separate facility at Tuskegee Army Air Field to train the pilots. The Tuskegee Airmen not only battled enemies during wartime but also fought against racism and segregation thus proving they were just as good as any other pilot. Racism was common during World War II and many people did not want blacks to become pilots. They trained in overcrowded classrooms and airstrips, and suffered from the racist attitude of some military officials. The Tuskegee Airman suffered many hardships, but they proved themselves to be world class pilots.
Even though the Tuskegee Airmen proved their worth as military pilots they were still forced to operate in segregated units and did not fight alongside their white countrymen.
The men earned the nickname “Red Tail Angels” since the bombers considered their escorts ”angels” and the red paint on the propeller and tail of their planes.
By the end of the war, 992 men had graduated from Negro Air Corps pilot training at Tuskegee; 450 were sent overseas for combat assignment. During the same period, about 150 lost their lives while in training or on combat flights. These black Airmen manage to destroy or damage over 409 German airplanes, 950 ground units, and sank a battleship destroyer. They ran more than 200 bomber escort missions during World War II.
Despite their distinguished wartime record, the Tuskegee Airmen returned to an America unwilling to recognize their contributions. They were still made to stay on the ships that brought them home from war until their white counterparts had disembarked. They experienced local governments treating German POWs better than they were treated.