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Made famous for all by the HBO film (now the new Lucasfilm movie "Red Tails" ), the story of the "Tuskegee Airmen" and stands bright in the annals of United States history. Formed as an experiment to see if black pilots could compete in the arena of aerial combat. The triumphant record that these brave men recorded under difficult conditions (created both by the enemy and by their own country) proved once and for all that racial prejudices have no place in the world of free men.
Depicted here, having successfully engaged a German Me-109F over Italy, is the P-51B Mustang piloted by Capt. Ed Toppins of the 99th Fighter Squadron, 332nd Fighter Group of the U.S. Army Air Corps. The 332nd fought in the Sicilian and Italian campaigns as well as bomber escort into the heart of the Third Reich. Bomber crews grew to be thankful for the sight of an escort of the "Red Tails", as the reputation of theTuskegee Airmen was so great that one newspaper even claimed they never lost an escorted bomber to enemy air action (a claim now debated by combat records) . The Tuskegee Airmen flew over 15,000 sorties during the war, accounting for 109 enemy aircraft shot down, and were awarded over 1,000 medals. As a price, 150 paid the unltimate sacrifice for freedom, a freedom that within their own country would take decades for them to fully realize.
January 25th, 2009
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