Community Pays Tribute to the Legacy of the Tuskegee Airmen


By Brittany Bivins

The forty-sixth annual Tuskegee fly-in brings visitors, history buffs, and aviation lovers. Tor people like Wilbur Mason, it's personal. Mason worked in base supply at Moten Air Field, where hundreds of African Airmen airmen trained to fly into battle during World War II.

"It's a homecoming. My home's originally in Tuskegee and so it's a homecoming, and a celebration that has been going on for quite awhile," said Mason.

It's also a special day for Don Holyfield, a WW II veteran from Mississippi who says he's been planning this trip for more than sixty years. During the war, he flew bombers. Tuskegee Airmen escorted those planes,guarding the pilots from harm.

"They carried us to our mission and brought us home safely, and that was for thirty-five times that they did this, and they're actually some of the best pilots in the world," said Holyfield.

He says he wanted to shake a Tuskegee Airmen's hand, to thank him for helping save his life.

"That's the reason I came today, to give honor where honor is due, and it is certainly do the Tuskegee Airmen," said Holyfield.

Mason says he's proud of the history of the Tuskegee Airmen, but he's proudest that they accomplished what they set out to do--be great pilots.

"We went through quite a lot of trauma and whatnot, but in the end, I think we were successful in achieving the mission which we were assigned," he said.

That work broke through barriers, paving the way for a new generation, says R.J. Lewis, a retired Air Force colonel who coordinated the event.

"They were the foundation of the modern Civil Rights movement. Before there was Martin Luther King, before there was Rosa Parks, before many others, there was the Tuskegee Airmen," said Lewis.

The fly-in is an annual event at the field. You can visit the Tuskegee Airmen Museum in Tuskegee throughout the entire year.

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