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AfriGeneas Military Research Forum

A Closer Look: Tuskegee Airmen's Record

Greetings Military Researchers:

In the last few weeks, print and electronic media have reported on the Tuskegee Airmen's record during WW II. Many of the media headlines come close to mocking the heroism of these brave African-American men, using descriptive words/phrases such as doubt is cast, myth, lore, record disputed.

The story is simply that historical records reveal that the Tuskegee Airmen DID lose bombers that they were escorting during WWII.

According to William F. Holton, historian for the Tuskegee Airmen, military records disprove the claim that the pilots "never lost a bomber to the enemy." According to one source, Mr. Holton reported his research to the Airmen's Association a few years ago.

Had the Tuskegee Airmen, gone public when they first learned of these records and corrected this historical error by press release etc, then perhaps the doubting dismissive headlines would never have clouded their incredible legacy. So instead the Tuskegee Airmen will always have a defensive tag-line to their history.

Massaging history, sloppy research, overstating military history when there is no need to, are all topics that have been discussed on the Afrigeneas Military Forum. We all know that irresponsible reporting opens the door to doubters and deniers of the black military experience.

My questions are:

What prevented the Tuskegee Airmen from "accurately revising" their sterling history?

How/where did this "never losing a bomber" myth begin? Did Gen. Benjamin O. Davis Jr. accept this flattering "fact", knowing that it was untrue?

Weren't there historians or media/television "fact checkers" who should have uncovered this flaw?

A Tuskegee Airman was quoted as saying, ""I think they are trying to destroy our record. Whats the point now?"

I can only gently reply, "Why indeed and now?" Better now then wait for further criticism to build and be remembered as a cover-up rather than a mistaken myth. The documented heroism and patriotism of the Black Military experience is a sacred American legacy. The Tuskegee Airmen, like their fellow Army, Marines and Navy military bretheren fought for the right to die for this country.

I was encouraged by the remarks made by the president of the Tuskegee Airmen. Retired Air Force Lt. Gen. Russell Davis, who said that he "no longer will say in speeches that the group never lost a bomber under its escort.

"Im going to drop (it) until we can get this thing clarified," Davis said. "Weve got some homework to do, obviously."

Below is one of many recent articles about the Tuskegee Airmen.

I'd be interested in your observations.

K Wyer Lane

18 Dec 2002 :: 14 Nov 2008
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