Whenever the nation has called, the State of Indiana has always sent its best.
It was no different, at the outset of World War II, when the call came for volunteers to serve as the first African American aviators in the US military.
Not every Tuskegee Airman was a pilot, nor wanted to be. However each Airman wanted to be very good at what they did. Of the over 16,000 men and women who participated in the Tuskegee Airmen Experience, less than 1,000 persons were able to complete all four phases of the flight training program. As a result, the vast majority of Tuskegee Airmen served in non-flying support roles to the flying operation. The Tuskegee Airman Experience was not just about those who flew.
A sampling of the leadership legacy of Tuskegee Airmen with Indiana roots and connections is as follows:
The Director of Training for first the two of the four phases of flight training for all Tuskegee Airmen pilot graduates came from Angola, Indiana
The first African American in the United States military to have an aerial combat victory over an enemy aircraft was from Brazil, Indiana
One Indianapolis native was a member of the first class of five graduates from the Tuskegee Advanced Flying School.
Three Airmen served as a Fighter Squadron Commander during World War II
The Commander of the military activity that prepared those without college degrees for the rigors of the flight training program hailed from Indianapolis
One Airman from Indianapolis and another Airman from Terre Haute played vital roles in the early formation of the national Tuskegee Airmen not for profit organization.
At least four Airmen are Sagamore of the Wabash Recipients
One Indianapolis native is the Third African American in the history of the State of Indiana to attain the Indiana Professional License as an Architect
One Indianapolis resident is Charter Member #15 of the Indiana 100 Black Men and Recipient of the Silver Beaver Award from the Crossroads of America Council of the Boy Scouts of America
The Tuskegee Airmen were collectively recognized, both flyers and non-flight personnel, with the award of the Congressional Gold Medal on March 29, 2007.