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The Heroes of Tuskeegee

March 12 2018 at 1:54 PM
Mike Dobrzelecki  (Login PolMikeD)
HyperScale Forums
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While some may believe that I am only interested in the Polish Air Force, my passion for history casts a much wider net than that.

I have had the privilege to meet many famous aces, pilots and aircrew over the years, mostly American, but also from other countries. Back in 1997, the NJIPMS model club was invited to participate in an exhibit at the Liberty Science Center at Liberty State Park in Jersey City, commemorating the 50th Anniversary of the establishment of the United States Air Force (USAF) as a separate branch of the U.S. Armed Forces on 18 September 1947 under the National Security Act of 1947. Prior to that, it was known as the US Army Air Force (USAAF), subject to US Army oversight and command.

The bonus was that we would be participating in the exhibit with the famed Tuskeegee Airmen of World War II. This was neither my first encounter with the Heroes of Tuskeegee, nor the last. I had attended lectures by at least two other Tuskeegee aces prior to that exhibit, and a one or two after the exhibit. For those who know nothing of the Tuskeegee Airmen, they were organized as the first Negro USAAF unit during WWII. Needless to say, with the racist attitude prevalent during those times, the Tuskeegee veterans had to fight both the entrenched prejudiced system in the USAAF and America, as a whole, as much as they had to fight the Nazi Luftwaffe, Wehrmacht and SS. Drawn from the creme de la creme of Negro University scholars and "colored" pre-war pilots, they, and their ground crews, acquitted themselves well during the war. During the course of the day we had an opportunity to talk with the Tuskeegee vets at length about their experiences, and they appreciated the respect and honor we showed them - which is how it should be. I got them to autograph the book that they were selling - a hard cover copy of "Tuskeegee's Heroes", written and illustrated by a Tuskeegee vet. It has pride of place on my noted aviation book shelf.

NJIPMS members who participated include: Mike Dobrzelecki, Bob LaPadura, Lee Lamarre, Ernest Connor, Ron Dobrzelecki

I apologize for the poor quality - these are scans of 400 asa 35mm prints taken in poor lighting conditions.

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