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Tuskegee Airmen

The Tuskegee Airmen, while not the only African Americans to serve in World War II, became a symbol of pride for many Americans. This 1943 poster appealed directly to the African American community. (U.S. Air Force photo)

The Tuskegee Airmen, while not the only African Americans to serve in World War II, became a symbol of pride for many Americans. This 1943 poster appealed directly to the African American community. (U.S. Air Force photo)

DAYTON, Ohio -- The Tuskegee Airmen diorama depicting a cadet and instructor on display in the WWII Gallery at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force. (U.S. Air Force photo)

DAYTON, Ohio -- The Tuskegee Airmen diorama depicting a cadet and instructor on display in the WWII Gallery at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force. (U.S. Air Force photo)

DAYTON, Ohio -- The Tuskegee Airmen diorama depicting a cadet and instructor on display in the WWII Gallery at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force. (U.S. Air Force photo)

DAYTON, Ohio -- The Tuskegee Airmen diorama depicting a cadet and instructor on display in the WWII Gallery at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force. (U.S. Air Force photo)

DAYTON, Ohio -- The Tuskegee Airmen diorama depicting a cadet and instructor on display in the WWII Gallery at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force. (U.S. Air Force photo)

DAYTON, Ohio -- The Tuskegee Airmen diorama depicting a cadet and instructor on display in the WWII Gallery at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force. (U.S. Air Force photo)

DAYTON, Ohio -- The Tuskegee Airmen diorama depicting a cadet and instructor on display in the WWII Gallery at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force. (U.S. Air Force photo)

DAYTON, Ohio -- The Tuskegee Airmen diorama depicting a cadet and instructor on display in the WWII Gallery at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force. (U.S. Air Force photo)

DAYTON, Ohio -- The Tuskegee Airmen diorama depicting a cadet and instructor on display in the WWII Gallery at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force. (U.S. Air Force photo)

DAYTON, Ohio -- The Tuskegee Airmen diorama depicting a cadet and instructor on display in the WWII Gallery at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force. (U.S. Air Force photo)

DAYTON, Ohio -- Museum Curator Scott Bradley works on installing the mannequins in the Tuskegee Airmen diorama in the WWII Gallery at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force. (U.S. Air Force photo)

DAYTON, Ohio -- Museum Curator Scott Bradley works on installing the mannequins in the Tuskegee Airmen diorama in the WWII Gallery at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force. (U.S. Air Force photo)

DAYTON, Ohio -- Exhibits Specialist Luke Maynard works on installing the mannequins in the Tuskegee Airmen diorama in the WWII Gallery at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force. (U.S. Air Force photo)

DAYTON, Ohio -- Exhibits Specialist Luke Maynard works on installing the mannequins in the Tuskegee Airmen diorama in the WWII Gallery at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force. (U.S. Air Force photo)

DAYTON, Ohio -- Museum Curator Jennifer Myers works on items in the Tuskegee Airmen Exhibit  in the WWII Gallery at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force.(U.S. Air Force photo)

DAYTON, Ohio -- Museum Curator Jennifer Myers works on items in the Tuskegee Airmen Exhibit in the WWII Gallery at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force.(U.S. Air Force photo)

DAYTON, Ohio -- The Tuskegee Airmen Congressional Gold Medal being installed by Exhibits Specialist Caleb Still in the WWII Gallery at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force. In April 2006, the U.S. Congress voted to award the Tuskegee Airmen a Congressional Gold Medal, the most prestigious award Congress can give to civilians. (U.S. Air Force photo)
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DAYTON, Ohio -- The Tuskegee Airmen Congressional Gold Medal being installed by Exhibits Specialist Caleb Still in the WWII Gallery at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force. In April 2006, the U.S. Congress voted to award the Tuskegee Airmen a Congressional Gold Medal, the most prestigious award Congress can give to civilians. (U.S. Air Force photo)

DAYTON, Ohio -- The flight jacket worn by 1st Lt. William Noel Alsbrook during a strafing mission against enemy railway, highway, and river targets in Austria on November 19, 1944.This jacket is on display in theTuskegee Airmen Exhibit in the WWII Gallery at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force. (U.S. Air Force photo)
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DAYTON, Ohio -- The flight jacket worn by 1st Lt. William Noel Alsbrook during a strafing mission against enemy railway, highway, and river targets in Austria on November 19, 1944.This jacket is on display in theTuskegee Airmen Exhibit in the WWII Gallery at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force. (U.S. Air Force photo)

DAYTON, Ohio -- The flight jacket worn by 1st Lt. William Noel Alsbrook during a strafing mission against enemy railway, highway, and river targets in Austria on November 19, 1944.This jacket is on display in theTuskegee Airmen Exhibit in the WWII Gallery at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force. (U.S. Air Force photo)
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DAYTON, Ohio -- The flight jacket worn by 1st Lt. William Noel Alsbrook during a strafing mission against enemy railway, highway, and river targets in Austria on November 19, 1944.This jacket is on display in theTuskegee Airmen Exhibit in the WWII Gallery at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force. (U.S. Air Force photo)

DAYTON, Ohio -- A general view of the Tuskegee Airmen Exhibit in the WWII Gallery at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force. (U.S. Air Force photo)
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DAYTON, Ohio -- A general view of the Tuskegee Airmen Exhibit in the WWII Gallery at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force. (U.S. Air Force photo)

DAYTON, Ohio -- Various artifacts on display in the Tuskegee Airmen Exhibit in the WWII Gallery at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force. (U.S. Air Force photo)
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DAYTON, Ohio -- Various artifacts on display in the Tuskegee Airmen Exhibit in the WWII Gallery at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force. (U.S. Air Force photo)

DAYTON, Ohio -- Service coat with the Twelfth Air Force emblem, pilot wings, medal ribbons, and three service stripes belonging to 1st Lt John L. Hamilton.  A pilot with the 99th Fighter Squadron, he received the Purple Heart after being wounded in the leg by flak during a dive-bombing mission at Anzio on March 9, 1944.  [Please note that the “U.S.” lapel and rank insignia have been added to complete the uniform.] This service coat is on display in the Tuskegee Airmen Exhibit in the WWII Gallery at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force. (U.S. Air Force photo)
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DAYTON, Ohio -- Service coat with the Twelfth Air Force emblem, pilot wings, medal ribbons, and three service stripes belonging to 1st Lt John L. Hamilton. A pilot with the 99th Fighter Squadron, he received the Purple Heart after being wounded in the leg by flak during a dive-bombing mission at Anzio on March 9, 1944. [Please note that the “U.S.” lapel and rank insignia have been added to complete the uniform.] This service coat is on display in the Tuskegee Airmen Exhibit in the WWII Gallery at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force. (U.S. Air Force photo)

DAYTON, Ohio -- Tuskegee Airmen Lt. Col. (Ret.) George Hardy views the expanded Tuskegee Airmen exhibit in the WWII Gallery at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force on Feb. 10, 2015. (U.S. Air Force photo)
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DAYTON, Ohio -- Tuskegee Airmen Lt. Col. (Ret.) George Hardy views the expanded Tuskegee Airmen exhibit in the WWII Gallery at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force on Feb. 10, 2015. (U.S. Air Force photo)

DAYTON, Ohio -- Tuskegee Airmen, families, friends and guests, gathered for the expanded Tuskegee Airmen exhibit opening in the WWII Gallery at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force on Feb. 10, 2015. (U.S. Air Force photo)
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DAYTON, Ohio -- Tuskegee Airmen, families, friends and guests, gathered for the expanded Tuskegee Airmen exhibit opening in the WWII Gallery at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force on Feb. 10, 2015. (U.S. Air Force photo)

DAYTON, Ohio -- Tuskegee Airmen Lt. Col. (Ret) George Hardy speaks to the crowd at the expanded Tuskegee Airmen exhibit opening in the WWII Gallery at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force on Feb. 10, 2015. (U.S. Air Force photo)
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DAYTON, Ohio -- Tuskegee Airmen Lt. Col. (Ret) George Hardy speaks to the crowd at the expanded Tuskegee Airmen exhibit opening in the WWII Gallery at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force on Feb. 10, 2015. (U.S. Air Force photo)

DAYTON, Ohio -- Tuskegee Airmen and Honorary Tuskegee Airmen gathered for photographs at the  expanded Tuskegee Airmen exhibit opening in the WWII Gallery at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force on Feb. 10, 2015. (U.S. Air Force photo)
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DAYTON, Ohio -- Tuskegee Airmen and Honorary Tuskegee Airmen gathered for photographs at the expanded Tuskegee Airmen exhibit opening in the WWII Gallery at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force on Feb. 10, 2015. (U.S. Air Force photo)

Reflecting American society and law at the time, the U.S. military remained racially segregated during World War II. Most African American soldiers and sailors were restricted to labor battalions or other support positions. One experiment in the U.S. Army Air Forces, however, demonstrated conclusively that African Americans -- if given equal opportunities and training -- could fly in, command and support combat units as well as anyone. These men, known as the "Tuskegee Airmen," served with distinction in combat, and they contributed to the eventual integration of the U.S. armed services, with the U.S. Air Force leading the way.

Click on the following links to learn more about the Tuskegee Airmen.

Political Pressure
Training Begins
Charles Alfred "Chief" Anderson
Davis Leads the 99th into Combat
Escort Excellence
Legacy of Equality
Edward C. Gleed Flying Jacket
Lt. Lloyd "Scotty" Hathcock
Two-war Flight Suit
Tuskegee Airmen Congressional Gold Medal

Click here to return to the World War II Gallery.

 

Find Out More
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Related Fact Sheets
Integration of the USAF
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Educational Materials
Lesson Plan: Tuskegee Airmen (grades 2-4)
Tuskegee Airmen Exhibit Guide
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Lectures
Dr. Daniel L. Haulman: "Tuskegee Airmen" (01:24:03)
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Other Resources
Tuskegee Airmen Inc.
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