The Tuskegee Airmen were the first black military airmen. They were young dedicated enlisted pilots who served in WWII. During their time period, they suffered severe racism. White people thought of them as unintelligent, unskillful, courageless, and non-patriotic men.
They came from all over the country. They came from major cities such as New York City, Chicago, and Washington D.C. They had the strength and courage to ignore the racism and join the United States Military. The ones who showed the mental and the physical traits necessary were the ones who were accepted as aviator cadets.
They flew from planes with single-engines up to planes as big as bombardment planes. Many were either college graduates or undergraduates. Others displayed academic qualifications. Lucky for them, the standards were not lowered because of their skin color. Officers often trained in operations, meteorology, intelligence, engineering, or medicines. The enlisted members trained in fields such as aircraft and engine mechanics, armament specialists, radio repairmen, parachute riggers, control tower operators, policemen, administrative clerks, and other skills necessary towards running an Army Air Corps (AAC) flying squadron.
The black airmen were trained at Tuskegee Army Air Field (TAAF) in Tuskegee, Alabama. The first aviation cadet classes began in July, 1941. It completed training in March 1943. The class held thirteen cadets. It had successfully passed five cadets. Four other cadets were commissioned 2nd Lieutenants. The five that passed recieved AAC silver pilot wings. From 1941 to 1946, TAAF trained 996 pilots, giving them commissions and pilot wings.
Four hundred and fifty pilots served overseas in the 99th Pursuit Squadron. The 99th Pursuit Squadron flew P-40 Warhawk aircraft in combat missions in North Africa, Sicily, and Italy. They served in the 99th Pursuit Squadron from April 1943 to July 1944, and then they were transferred to the 332nd Fighter Group in the 15th Air Force.
The Tuskegee Airmen will be forever known because of the two wars they fought: WWII, and the constant racism at home. The soldiers not overseas were trained as bomber pilots and were the target of constant racism. They weren't even allowed into the officers' club. Some officers attempted to get into the club once and 103 officers were arrested. Although in 1995, their military records were erased of the incident because the U.S. Military realized how foolish it was.
After the war in Europe was over, the pilots returned overseas and were the target of even more racism, even with their outstanding war efforts. The white squadrons lost pilots to the Luftwaffe, so they ask of assitance to the expierenced Tuskegee Airmen. In that case, in 1948, President Harry S. Truman signed executive order 9981, which directed equality of treatment in the US armed forces. This order officially ended the segregation among the United States Military.