BALTIMORE (WJZ)– They served America with honor and distinction.
Kai Jackson had the privilege of talking with several Tuskegee Airmen who are working hard to tell their story.
The Tuskegee Airmen were the first African-American pilots in the U.S military. They flew in World War II and their name came from the testing they first endured in Tuskegee, Ala., to determine if blacks had the aptitude to fly.
“This is something as prestigious as a war college paper that came out and said Negroes couldn’t master anything as complex as flying an airplane etc.,” William Broadwater, a former Tuskegee Airman, said.
Originally, there were more than 950 Tuskegee airmen trained as pilots. They flew fighter planes and bombers but only the fighter pilots saw combat.
“They were a great group of young men who in 1941, volunteered to save their country, the United States of America,” Byron Morris, a historian of the Tuskegee Airmen, said.
It’s often said the Tuskegee Airmen fought two battles: the war overseas and back home the war against segregation and racism.
Three Tuskegee Airmen live in Maryland. And last month, Baltimore County leaders honored two of them for their service and sacrifice.
“The overall message is, if these gentlemen could succeed under the condition that they had to train under and everything, and live under in this country in 1930s and 40s, hey, that’s a success story. These guys were heroes, they were winners,” Morris said.
Jackson: “Any bitterness about what you experienced?”
Broadwater: “Well, you had the ugly you look at but the good side far exceeds it.”
Broadwater is 87 years old. The other Tuskegee airmen Cyril Byron and Lemuel Lewie are both 92.
It’s estimated some 500 are still alive.