Black History Now 2021

TUSKEGEE AIRMEN PASS “THE TEST”

The 99th Fighter Squadron Commander Major George “Spanky” Roberts reads a telegram of Congratulations” from General John Hawkins to eight Tuskegee Airmen pilots.

During World War II, the battle for Anzio, Italy, 22 January – 23 May 1944, was a costly action for Allied Forces, but it would prove once and for all that the Tuskegee pilots of 99th Fighter Squadron had the capabilities, reflexes and aggressiveness for aerial combat. On 27 January, outnumbered almost two to one, they downed ten (10) German Focke-Wulf FW-190 fighter aircraft in a single day while flying their P-40 Warhawk Fighters in air-to-air combat, without losing a single plane. As news of the 99th FS reached military leadership, criticism turned to praise. The 99th was finally achieving recognition as a superb tactical fighter unit, an expert in putting bombs on designated targets, and a unit with acknowledged superiority in aerial combat with the Luftwaffe.

Tuskegee Airmen

Pictured from left to right and listed by rank, name, hometown, and (number of aerial victories that day) are: 2nd Lt. Wilson Eagleson, Bloomington, IN (1); 1st Lt. Edward Toppins, San Francisco, CA (1); 1st Lt. Leon Roberts, Pritchard, AL (1); 1st Lt. Robert Deiz, Portland, OR (1); 2nd Lt. Charles Bailey, Punta-Gorda, FL (1); 1st Lt. Willie Ashley, Jr., Sumpter, SC (1); Maj. “Spanky” Roberts, Fairmont, WV; 1st Lt. Howard Baugh, Petersburg, VA (1.5); 2nd Lt. Clarence Allen, Mobile, AL (0.5); (not pictured) Capt. Lemuel Custis, Hartford, CT (1); 2nd Lt. Lewis Smith, Los Angeles, CA (1) Photo courtesy of the Howard Baugh Chapter Tuskegee Airmen Inc., Petersburg, VA

 

To learn more about Tuskegee Airmen, visit:
portsmouthartcenter.com/exhibits/the-test-the-tuskegee-project/

For further study visit: Moton Field / Tuskegee Airmen Special Resource Study, National Park Service:
www.history.com/topics/world-war-ii/tuskegee-airmen

To view a History Channel special, 10 February 2021, 8:00 p.m.:
play.history.com/specials/tuskegee-airmen-legacy-of-courage/preview-tuskegee-airmen-legacy-of-courage