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Tuskegee Airmen


            Who Were the Tuskegee Airmen of World War II.
            
             The Tuskegee Airmen were dedicated, determined young men who volunteered to become America's first black military airmen. They came from every section of America, with large numbers coming from New York City, Washington, D.C., Los Angeles, Chicago, and Detroit. Each one possessed a strong personal desire to serve the United States of America proudly and to the best of his ability as an airman, even while many other Americans felt that black men lacked intelligence, skill, courage and patriotism. .
             Those who possessed the physical and mental qualifications and were accepted for aviation cadet training were trained initially to be pilots, and later to be either pilots, navigators, or bombardiers. Most were college graduates or undergraduates, while the remainder demonstrated their academic qualifications through comprehensive entrance examinations. No standards were lowered for those black pilots and other airmen trained as operations officers, meteorologists, intelligence officers, engineering officers, flight surgeons, etc. Still others were trained to be aircraft and engine mechanics, armament specialists, radio repairmen, parachute riggers, control tower operators, administrators and for every other type of skill necessary to function as an air force squadron, or ground support unit. .
             The black airmen who became single- or multi-engine pilots were trained at Tuskegee Army Air Field (TAAF) in Tuskegee Alabama. The first aviation cadet class began in July 1941 and completed its training nine months later in March 1942. Thirteen started in the first class. Five successfully completed the training, including Benjamin O. Davis, Jr., a West Point graduate. The other four were commissioned second lieutenants, and all five received Army Air Corps silver pilot wings. From 1942 until 1946, nine hundred and ninety-two black- Americans graduated in aviation cadet classes at TAAF, and also received commissions and pilot's wings.


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