Charles McGee died earlier this year at the age of 102. His passing signals that one of the most inspirational chapters in US history is coming to an end. He was one of only a handful of remaining Tuskegee Airmen. If our schools really wish to promote racial harmony in our society, they should skip the lessons on Critical Race Theory or the 1619 Project, and instead tell the story of Charles McGee and the men he worked with.
The Tuskegee airmen were the first black Americans trained by the Army Air Corps to fly combat aircraft in World War II. Their training took placed at various airfields around Tuskegee, Alabama – hence their name. The program created for them was the fulfillment of one of President Franklin Roosevelt’s campaign promises. Up to this point, the US military had never had black pilots. Racism and segregation were still a very real thing in the US armed forces.
The military leadership viewed the program as an experiment. Most expected it to fail. However, they were wrong. The program was successful beyond anyone’s wildest dreams.
There is a great deal that our society could learn from the way the Tuskegee airmen met the challenges of their day. They faced racism that would make today’s problems seem quaint by comparison. Units were segregated. Blacks were largely relegated to menial work. There was even an institutional belief that they were inherently inferior to whites. They overcame all of those barriers by becoming the best at what they did. In doing so, they discredited their critics.
None of the airmen claimed victimhood. They merely recognized that they had challenges to overcome – as every human throughout history has. They set out to overcome those challenges with hard work and persistence. And overcome them they did.
They didn’t ask for special considerations. They didn’t blame others for their problems or whine about life’s injustices. They didn’t let social circumstances distract them from the mission at hand. They did take advantage of every opportunity available, and were determined to become the best combat pilots possible.
After their training, the Tuskegee airmen eventually became the 332nd Fighter Group, flying fighter aircraft in the European theater. Support for the allied invasion of Sicily was their first assignment. They painted the tails of their aircraft bright red, so that everyone – friend or foe – would know when they joined any fight.
The Tuskegee airmen began combat operations flying ground support missions. They attacked convoys, trains, ships, and fixed installations. Eventually they were tasked with bomber escort. Their job was to protect bombers from attack by Nazi fighters. It was a mission that they excelled at.
They developed such a reputation as fierce defenders of the bombers in their charge, that the Nazis came to fear them, and the bomber crews came to pray that they would draw the “red-tailed angels” for protection on each day’s raid. They were so good at their mission, that even the most racist of bomber crewmen came to only care about one color – the color of the red tails they hoped to be surrounded by each day.
The Tuskegee airmen of the 332nd flew 1,578 combat missions during WW II. They shot down 112 Nazi aircraft, including 3 Me 262 jet fighters in one day. They also destroyed 150 aircraft on the ground. While flying ground support, they destroyed 950 equipment laden rail cars and even a German destroyer.
The airmen flew 179 bomber escort missions, losing only 25 bombers to enemy fire. That was roughly half of the losses that other bomber escort units realized. They were among the best in the business. 66 pilots were killed and another 32 were captured in the pursuit of that remarkable achievement.
By the end of the war the 332nd had received 3 Distinguished Unit Citations. Its pilots had amassed 96 Distinguished Flying Crosses, 12 Bronze Stars, 1 Silver Star, and 744 Air Medals.
In the end, and untold number of lives – mostly white – were saved by their skill, bravery, and sacrifice. They overcame racism in the only way that actually works – by opening men’s hearts, one person at a time. They did it without quotas, diversity programs, or critical race theory training. They simply changed the belief system of men, one bomber crewman at a time.
Author Bio: John Green is a political refugee from Minnesota, now residing in Idaho. He has written for American Thinker,American Free News Network, and The Blue State Conservative. He can be followed on Facebook or reached at email@example.com.
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