Four original Tuskegee Airmen from Dallas will return to Tuskegee for the first time since the 1940s on Friday and Saturday. Their arrival at Montgomery Regional Airport in Montgomery, Ala. will be greeted by cadets from Tuskegee University’s Air Force ROTC Friday.
“We’re going to come out strong, cheer and give them a path of honor,” said Lt. Col Kelly Primus, commander of the Air Force ROTC.
As part of a special trip sponsored by a non-profit organization, Wish of a Lifetime, and the Dallas chapter of Tuskegee Airmen, Inc., the men have been given the opportunity to visit the Tuskegee Airman National Historic Site at Moton Field. The group and their friends and loved ones will be given a private tour by the National Parks Services on Saturday morning.
Later, the men will be part of a public seminar to share the history and legacy of the airmen at the auditorium in the Kellogg Hotel and Conference Center at Tuskegee University. The seminar, “An Evening with the Red Tails,” is from 6-7:30 p.m. Hosted by retired Col. Roosevelt J. Lewis, president of the Tuskegee chapter of Tuskegee Airmen, Inc., the forum is open to the community and students and will be followed by a Q-and-A.
Retired Staff Sgt. Homer Hogues was drafted into the military after he completed high school. After basic training, his orders were to go to Japan for clean-up duties. Upon the advice of a fellow airman and friend, his orders were changed and further testing resulted in Hogues’ assignment to the Tuskegee Airmen. At Lockbourne Air Force Base in Columbus, Ohio, Hogues was assigned to the famous 99th Fighter Squadron 332nd Fighter Group. He was a mechanic on airplanes with pilots such as Daniel “Chappie” James, who helped win World War II.
Retired Flight Officer Robert Tennerson McDaniel entered the military in 1943 and was accepted into the Aviation Cadet Training Program at Tuskegee Institute. He flew the TB-25J serving his country as a flight officer with the 477th Bombardier Group. McDaniel suffered an unjust court-martial and was put under house arrest because of his courageous resistance against racism and segregation. The charges were eventually cleared and he was honorably restored.
Retired Capt. Claude R. Platte served as a primary flight instructor, training over 300 blacks to solo and fly PT -13s, PT-17s and PT-19s. He was assigned to the 301st Fighter Squadron and the first black officer to be trained and commissioned in the newly reopened Air Force Pilot Training Program at Randolph Field Air Force Base, Texas the "West Point of the Air."
Retired Lt. Calvin Spann went into the Army Air Corps to start aviation cadet training in 1943. He was sent to Tuskegee, Ala. for training. Spann received his wings at Tuskegee. At the completion of training in 1944, Lt. Spann was sent to Italy and became a member of the 100th Fighter Squadron, a part of the 332nd Fighter Group under the command of Col. Benjamin O. Davis, Jr. Lt. Spann flew 26 combat missions before the end of the war in Europe.
For more information about Tuskegee Airmen, Inc., go to: http://tuskegeeairmen.org/default.aspx and to learn more about Wish of Lifetime, go to: http://seniorwish.org/blog/tuskegee-airmen-to-receive-wish-of-a-lifetime/.