by Sarah Parke
National Museum of the U.S. Air Force
1/26/2006 - DAYTON, Ohio -- As part of the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force's celebration of Black History month in February, several exhibits feature contributions from prominent black personnel in Air Force history.
The Air Force became the first of all U.S. military service branches to complete integration. This historic and successful integration of black personnel into all-white units starting more than 50 years ago is presented in an exhibit at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force.
Entitled "Integration of the USAF," the exhibit highlights President Harry S. Truman's Executive Order banning segregation in the U.S. military and includes the contributions and personal effects of prominent black personnel in Air Force history.
The exhibit features Gen. Daniel "Chappie" James Jr., the Air Force's first black four-star general; Lt. Gen. Benjamin O. Davis Jr., the first of the famous Tuskegee Airmen to become a general; and the 332nd Fighter Group, a segregated black unit stationed at Lockbourne Air Base near Columbus, Ohio, that won first place in the conventional class category of the 1949 U.S. Air Force Fighter Gunnery Competition.
James' flight jacket and gloves are on display as is a flight suit worn during World War II by Lt. Haldane King, a B-25 pilot, and during the Southeast Asia War by his son, Lt. Haldane King Jr., the suit's donor. The exhibit is located in the Air Power Gallery.
The museum also features an exhibit about the Tuskegee Airmen. On Jul. 19, 1941, the AAF began a program in Alabama to train black Americans as military pilots. Primary flight training was conducted by the Division of Aeronautics of Tuskegee Institute; the famed school of learning founded by Booker T. Washington in 1881. Located in the Air Power Gallery, the exhibit presents uniforms, photos and other mementos of the Tuskegee Airmen.
The museum is the world's largest and oldest military aviation museum. More than one million people visit the museum each year to see its nearly 350 aircraft and aerospace vehicles and to walk through more than 17 acres of indoor exhibit space.
The National Museum of the United States Air Force is located on Springfield Pike, six miles northeast of downtown Dayton. It is open seven days a week from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. (closed Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year's Day). Admission and parking are free.
NOTE TO MEDIA: For more information, contact the National Museum of the United States Air Force Public Affairs Division at (937) 255-4704, ext. 332.