Tuskegee Airmen visit So. Georgia - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Tuskegee Airmen visit So. Georgia

P-51 "Red Tail" Mustang flown by Tuskegee Airmen (Photo Courtesy: Tony Evans) P-51 "Red Tail" Mustang flown by Tuskegee Airmen (Photo Courtesy: Tony Evans)

February 26, 2004

Americus-- The story of the Tuskegee Airmen has been told countless times. There is a movie, several books, and other short films on the World War II fighter pilots-- the first black pursuit squadron ever.

Today, this powerful history lesson came alive.

In his prime, 83-year-old Alvon Johnson was a Tuskegee fighter pilot. "My chapter when I came in, let's see about 11 years ago, there were 22 originals in that chapter. Now there are nine. Half of which are bedridden, wheelchairs and can't make it to these presentations. Thank God, thank God I can still move about."

And move about he does. Mr. Johnson, along with the other aging Airmen in the Atlanta Chapter, travel around the state, telling their story. Today they are at South Georgia Technical College. It's a story that has been brought to life by film. But, the reality of the Tuskegee Airmen is far less glamorous than portrayed by Hollywood.

These men entered a segregated military, but were given a chance to fly. "It was a challenge, something I had never done before and I wanted to make sure I tried and did my best," said Johnson.

The Tuskegee Airmen were the best. These pilots, known as the "Black Red Tail" because of the red paint on their planes that identified them as African American, never lost a single bomber. "Oh, it is very important. That is why we go around and our enthusiastic about talking to people. So that they will not forget us. They cannot forget us. We made too many sacrifices. We lost 66 men in battle."

The remaining Tuskegee Airmen  say they will keep telling their story-- until they are gone.

The Atlanta Chapter of the Tuskegee Airmen speak year-round about there experience in World War Two. Few of the original airmen, though, are still alive.

posted at 4:45PM by dave.miller@walb.com

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