The Tuskegee Airmen were the first African American airmen in the military, and fought during World War Two. The men would experience nine months of training in order to graduate and earn either commissions or Army Air Corps silver pilot wings. The squadrons were always very successful in the missions during the war, after a few years President Harry S. Truman would begin to desegregate the military.
The Tuskegee Airmen had a rough start but they were one of the best squadrons during the war. The Tuskegee Airmen would help change many things during World War Two, even though nothing was easy for them due to the racism and segregation which was prevalent at that time, they would continue to fight using older planes and often never receive credit for their achievements. The start of the Tuskegee Airmen was in 1943 during World War Two.
According to The Tuskegee Airmen National History Museum, “The Tuskegee Airmen were dedicated, determined young men who enlisted to become America’s first black military airmen, at a time when there were many people who thought that black men lacked intelligence, skill, courage and patriotism,” (“Who Were They? “). Tuskegee Airmen was supposedly an experiment to see if the African Americans were able to do the same task as a white male during the time. Many people did not believe that the men would be successful, yet alone be one of the best squadrons during the war.
The young men would be required to take an entrance exam before they could be accepted into the training program. The men would endure nine long months of training at the Tuskegee Army Air Field in Tuskegee, Arizona. As stated by Jesse Greenspan, “Overall, 992 pilots completed the Tuskegee training program, nearly half of whom were then shipped overseas, where they gained fame for their unparalleled success at escorting bombers on long-range raids deep into Nazi-controlled territory,” (“The Birth of the Tuskegee Airmen”).
The first class of graduates began fighting in the war in 1943. The Tuskegee Airmen had one of the highest success rates from all the missions they took part in. The Tuskegee Airmen reportedly had one of the lowest death rates during World War Two. According to Tuskegee University, “The Airmen’s success in escorting bombers during World War II – having one of the lowest loss records of all the escort fighter groups, and being in constant demand for their services by the allied bomber units. is a record unmatched by any other fighter group,” (Tuskegee Airmen Facts). Many Americans did not believe that the Tuskegee Airmen would be successful in any of their missions due to them being African American. Stated by HistoryNet, “On March 24, 1945, an African American newspaper, the Chicago Defender, ran an article claiming that in over 200 missions, the Tuskegee Airmen had never lost to enemy aircraft any bomber they had escorted,” (“Tuskegee Airmen at Mission Briefing”).
The turning point of the war was thought to be after the Tuskegee Airmen began escorting bombers. The squadrons would be given the older planes instead of having newer equipment. Many of the officers would not be allowed in the officer clubs. The Tuskegee Airmen would have to endure many racial challenges after returning home. The officers would not be able to enter any of the officer clubs. The ranks did not mean anything to the white officers in the club, although many men did receive Distinguished Flying Crosses for their achievements.
According to History. com, “Though subject to racial discrimination both at home and abroad, the 996 pilots and more than 15,000 ground personnel who served with the allblack units would be credited with some 15,500 combat sorties and earn over 150 Distinguished Flying Crosses for their achievements,” (“Tuskegee Airmen”). The success of the Tuskegee Airmen led to the desegregation of the military. The military experienced many changes during and after World War Two. President Truman put an order in place to finally desegregate the military in 1948.
The main reason the military was desegregated was to raise President Truman’s ratings for the upcoming election, although the military needed to be desegregated. The desegregation of the military meant the African American’s should receive the same recognition for achievements and officers should be allowed to enter the officer clubs. The men would still have to face the fact they would not be given the opportunity to use newer and up to date equipment. The men often had to make due with older equipment and would need to fight for the ability to receive recognition.
Many of the men would make friendships that would last till their death. The Tuskegee Airmen often made friends with others in the squadron. Although, most of the men returned home unharmed they did not always stay connected. There was one specific case where the friends stayed connected and passed away on the same day at the same age also. According to Tribune wire reports, “Clarence E. Huntley Jr. and Joseph Shambrey died on Jan. 5 in their Los Angeles homes, relatives said Sunday,” (“2 Tuskegee Airmen, lifelong friends, die at 91 on same day”).
Both of those men influenced many people while they were still alive, including all of their families. The men had enlisted together and served in the same squadron, although they did not really talk about their experiences in World War Two they would have barbeques and many of their military buddies would show up. The men influence people today since they did not let the war break their friendship apart and they were able to make it home safely. The Tuskegee Airmen made a remarkable difference in our country. The Tuskegee Airmen were not only important for air missions in World War Two, but also back home.
The men would face any challenges during the war but they would continue to fight even with the racism and the segregation of the military at the time. The military would not be desegregated until 1948 after the war was over. This time was hard for many but the Tuskegee Airmen had one of the hardest times during the war. The Tuskegee Airmen would be the reason the military will forever be desegregated. The Tuskegee Airmen would help change many things during and after the war, even though nothing was easy for them due to the racism and segregation. The Tuskegee Airmen have influenced many African Americans the join the armed forces and fight for the country.