A day after the 75th anniversary of D-Day, 94-year-old Tuskegee Airman Lt. Col. Harry Stewart appeared on "Fox & Friends" to discuss the significance of being one of the first African-American army pilots in World War II.
Lt. Col. Stewart told host Steve Doocy on Friday morning the tale of his first mission with the U.S. Army - a "huge armada" of 500 B-24 and B-17 bombers traveling from Italy to northern Europe. African-American pilots were allowed to fight for the first time in World War II under the condition that they trained in a segregated unit, dubbed the Tuskegee Airmen.
"It was really rare because just before then, African-Americans were not accepted for pilot training into the Army Air Corps," said Lt. Col. Stewart, who dreamed of being a pilot since he was 18.
These memories are particularly vivid for him now because of the anniversary of D-Day, he said. Stewart added that when he returned safely from the war, the recognition of the service of African-American pilots was not widely appreciated.
"It was the same old, same it was before we went into World War II," he said. "Recognition was long-coming, and it didn't start coming until maybe the 1970s. And it is still coming along now."
When he came back from the war, Stewart attempted to become an airline pilot but was not permitted because he was African-American.
Fortunately, he had a "backup plan," and attended New York University where he graduated with a degree in mechanical engineering, then entered the corporate workforce.
The World War II veteran, who will celebrate his 95th birthday on Independence Day, expands more on his military service in his new book "Soaring to Glory."