The Tuskegee Airmen

Many young African Americans aspired to become part of military aviation but were banned on racial grounds. The U.S. Army Air Corps finally opened a segregated training program for blacks at Tuskegee, Alabama, in 1941, and the talented Noel F. Parrish became the base commander. Throughout the war, Parrish provided inspired leadership for the training program.

Benjamin O. Davis Jr. emerged from among the cadets as the commander of the all-black 99th Fighter Squadron (originally the 99th Pursuit Squadron). Davis later went on to lead the “Tuskegee Airmen” in the European theater of combat from 1943 to 1945.

“The privileges of being an American belong to those brave enough to fight for them.”

—Benjamin O. Davis Jr.

Cadets at Tuskegee Army Air Field in 1942.

The B-25
As the Tuskegee program expanded, the War Department approved the training of black airmen to fly B-25 Mitchell bombers. World War II ended before the 477th Bombardment Group was assigned to combat.

On the Home Front
The Tuskegee Army Air Field became the vital center for training African Americans to fly fighter and bomber aircraft.