Advertisement

You will be redirected to the page you want to view in  seconds.

Memorial to Tuskegee Airmen WWII unit unveiled

Sep. 16, 2013 - 12:19PM   |  
  • Filed Under

SEWICKLEY, PA. — Men from western Pennsylvania who served in the all-black Tuskegee Airmen unit during World War II are now honored on a new monument in Allegheny County, billed as the country’s largest outdoor monument commemorating the barrier-breaking group.

Hundreds gathered at Sewickley Cemetery for Sunday’s unveiling of the memorial, where the names of about 100 western Pennsylvania members of the 332nd Fighter Group of the U.S Army Air Corps are carved into two flanking towers. Two others relate the history and the soldiers’ struggle against discriminatory laws at home and segregation in the military to become trailblazers fighting for equality.

On a central tower above sits a red granite sculpture of an airplane tail, a reference to the unit’s nickname, “Red Tails.”

More than 900 pilots trained at Tuskegee Institute in Alabama and about a third escorted bombers in the war’s European theater, disproving the notion that black pilots were inferior to whites.

James Cotton, 86, one of six veterans present, said he always knew his role mattered, even though he drew little attention in the first few decades after the war.

“I felt as though I was doing something that was life-changing and earth-inspiring,” he said.

Cotton was kept busy with autograph requests from the approximately 500 people who attended, as was Dr. Robert Higginbotham, 87, a Sewickley native and Tuskegee-trained soldier who also served in Korea.

“The crowd embraced us the way we should be embraced,” Higginbotham said. “I still love this country.”

Air Force Brig. Gen. Leon Johnson told the crowd that the unit lives on, flying missions in the Middle East and aiding the withdrawal of U.S. forces from Iraq.

“The spirit of the Tuskegee Airmen units is alive and well,” said Gen. Johnson, who heads a nonprofit that promotes the unit’s history. “The Tuskegee Airmen today are doing what the Tuskegee Airmen did in World War II.”

More In News

Start your day with a roundup of top defense news.

VA Home Loan
Rates

Search By:

Product Options:
Zip Code:

News for your in-box

Sign up now for free Military Times E-Reports. Choose from Money and Education. Subscribers: log in for premium e-newsletters.

This Week's Army Times

This Week's Army Times

The push for pullups
Why soldiers want it added to PT test

Subscribe for Print or Digital delivery today!

Classifieds
MilitaryTimes Green Trusted Classifieds Looking to buy, sell and connect on Military Times?
Browse expanded listings across hundreds of military installations.
Faces of valorHonoring those who fought and died in Operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom.
hall of valorThe Hall of Valor is a searchable database of valor award citations collected by Doug Sterner, a Vietnam veteran and Military Times contributing editor, and by Military Times staff.
   Last Post: garhkal
        Apr 15, 2014 4:55 PM
   Last Post: Shaken1976
        Apr 15, 2014 5:13 PM
   Last Post: MACHINE666
        Apr 6, 2014 4:23 PM
Handbooks

All you need to know about your military benefits.

Benefits handbook

Guard & Reserve All you need to know about the Guard & Reserve.

guard and reserve handbook