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 February is Black History Month
 Learn about African Americans who served in the Army Air Forces during World War II
 
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Engineer Aviation Battalion
DAYTON, Ohio -- Engineer Aviation Battalion exhibit near the Curtiss C-46D in the World War II Gallery at the National Museum of the United States Air Force. (U.S. Air Force photo)
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Celebrate Black History Month at National Museum of the U.S. Air Force

Posted 1/31/2012   Updated 1/30/2012 Email story   Print story

    


by Sarah Swan
National Museum of the U.S. Air Force


1/31/2012 - DAYTON, Ohio -- As Black History Month approaches and the United States commemorates the 70th anniversary of World War II, visitors to the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force can learn about African Americans who served during that war.

Near the B-24D Liberator in the World War II Gallery is the museum's exhibit on the famed Tuskegee Airmen. On July 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. In addition to telling the story of their distinctive combat record, the exhibit presents uniforms, photos and other mementos of the Tuskegee Airmen.

Read more about the Tuskegee Airmen and see photos online at http://www.nationalmuseum.af.mil/factsheets/factsheet.asp?id=1356 or view a 360-degree image of the exhibit at http://nmusafvirtualtour.com/full/tour-pkg.html (click on World War II - 026 on the map).

During the Second World War, African Americans served in other roles as well. Although the U.S. military segregated them into separate units, the U.S. Army Air Forces gave blacks a unique opportunity to do sophisticated engineering work in segregated Engineer Aviation Battalions. These specially trained units constructed, concealed, maintained and defended airfields in every theater. Eventually, these black Airmen disproved the unfortunate belief that blacks could not do complicated construction or engineering work. The museum's exhibit, located near the C-46D Commando, portrays a scene of black aviation engineers working on an airfield in the China-Burma-India Theater.

Read more about the Engineer Aviation Battalions and see photos online at http://www.nationalmuseum.af.mil/factsheets/factsheet.asp?id=1525 or view a 360-degree image of the exhibit at http://nmusafvirtualtour.com/full/tour-pkg.html (click on World War II - 036 on the map).

On June 1, 1949, the Air Force published regulations dismantling segregation, thus becoming the first of all U.S. military service branches to complete integration of black personnel into all-white units. This story is presented in an exhibit titled "Integration of the USAF," which 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.

Read more about the integration of the U.S. Air Force and see photos online at http://www.nationalmuseum.af.mil/factsheets/factsheet.asp?id=1842 or view a 360-degree image of the exhibit at http://nmusafvirtualtour.com/full/tour-pkg.html (click on World War II - 037 on the map).

The National Museum of the United States Air Force is located on Springfield Street, 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. For more information about the museum, visit www.nationalmuseum.af.mil.


NOTE TO PUBLIC: For more information, please contact the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force at (937) 255-3286.

NOTE TO MEDIA: For more information, please contact Sarah Swan at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force Public Affairs Division at (937) 255-1283.



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