GAMBIER — Veterans of the Tuskegee Airmen, who served with distinction during World War II, will visit Kenyon College on Wednesday to discuss their experiences as fighter pilots in the segregated U.S. Army Air Forces.
“All blood runs red,” said Don Elder, 84, of Columbus, a member of the Ohio Memorial Chapter of the Tuskegee Airmen. “We proved that we were all young, patriotic, red-blooded American boys. We went out and did our job without any expectations of any recognition or fanfare. We just did what was right for our country.”
The public is encouraged to attend the free event — “The Tuskegee Airmen: Proving There’s Only One Race” – at 4:15 p.m. at the Rosse Hall, 105 College Drive. At least three veteran airmen will join Kenyon senior Lydia Winkler, who will host the event that includes a short video introduction of the group. The airmen included 992 pilots who trained in Tuskegee, Ala. Among those, 450 went on to notch 1,378 combat missions, destroying 262 enemy planes, more than 600 rail cars and 40 boats. Deaths numbered 150 by combat and accident. They came to be known as the Red Tails, because of the characteristic red paint on their planes’ tails, or Red-Tail Angels.
“It’s an accomplishment in history that will never be matched,” Elder said. “I believe it’s necessary that particularly our youth know the legacy of the Tuskegee Airmen.”
Winkler of Summit, N.J., has undertaken extensive interviews and research on the airmen as part of her senior exercise in American Studies. Most students, she said, are unaware of the role played by the airmen during World War II. Her goal, she said, is to bring attention to the airmen, “to honor them and share their efforts and what they’ve done for the country that rejected them. They had pressure from the other side and pressure from their own side.”
The event is sponsored by Kenyon Student Lectureships and the Black Student Union. To learn more, call 740-427-5591.
Published on March 25, 2013