In July of 1941, a small group of Americans, all of them volunteers, gathered at a tiny airfield in Tuskegee, Alabama. Their goal? To build a special fighter unit for the U.S. Army Air Corps. It was not the planes they flew or the weapons they employed that made them unique. It was the color of their skin.
In the 1940s our military, like our country, was segregated. And many inside Washington power circles believed black men didn’t have the courage or the skill to fly combat aircraft. Forced to train and serve in a segregated unit, the Tuskegee Airmen would have to prove them wrong. And they did. They overcame racism at home and abroad and by the end World War II, these pilots earned military respect for their air prowess.
Nicknamed the "Red Tails" for the color painted on their aircraft, over 1,000 black aviators and thousands of mechanics and technicians were trained at Tuskegee. The Red Tails flew over 15,000 combat missions and destroyed over 250 enemy planes.
But perhaps their most impressive accomplishment didn’t involve destruction or death. They saved lives. As you will hear in this Sunday's episode, during Allied escort missions over Europe, these men never lost a bomber to the enemy.
In this inspiring episode of “War Stories with Oliver North,” you will meet some of the men who battled to fight for a country that didn’t see them as equal.
You'll hear how Chief Alfred Anderson flew Eleanor Roosevelt and earned the first lady's respect.
You'll meet men like George Bolling who was shot down over the Mediterranean and survived a lonely night adrift in a tiny dinghy.
Hear how George Watson, took matters into his own hands during “Operation Fuel Tank.”
And you’ll also hear Lee Archer explain the controversy surrounding his shot at becoming the first black ace.
See these and many more stories of struggle and survival in the face of determined enemy.
Staff for this episode:
Executive Producer: Pamela K. Browne
Written and Produced by: Martin Hinton and Steven Tierney
Editor: Chris Scalaro
Opening Animation: Yong Kim