Exhibit at Air Force's national museum highlights service's historic, successful integration
By Rob Bardua, National Museum of the U.S. Air Force
/ Published September 20, 2006
DAYTON, Ohio -- The U.S. Air Force's historic and successful integration of black personnel into all-white units starting more than 50 years ago will serve as the subject of an exhibit opening at the National Museum of the United States Air Force on Feb. 2.
Entitled "Integration of the USAF," the exhibit highlights President Harry S. Truman's Executive Order banning segregation in the U.S. military and will include the contributions and personal effects of prominent black personnel in Air Force history.
Combining previously displayed elements with new ones, the newly formed exhibit will feature 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.
"This exhibit is an essential element to our storyline because of the historic significance of integration and the indispensable role of black personnel in forging the modern Air Force," said Maj. Gen. (Ret.) Charles D. Metcalf, museum director. "It's imperative that we highlight the rightness of this effort and honor these trailblazers who made the service stronger and helped create greater opportunities for others that would follow."
General James' flight jacket and gloves will be on display as will 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.
Part of the museum's celebration of Black History Month in February, the exhibit is located in the Air Power Gallery.
The Air Force proved to be in strong position to implement integration as it had been studying ways to improve efficiency throughout the service. The Air Force became the first of all U.S. military service branches to complete integration.
The National Museum of the United States Air Force 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.
NOTE TO MEDIA: For more information, contact the National Museum of the United States Air Force Public Affairs Division at (937) 255-4704, ext. 330.