This Black History Month, we're taking a look at Black aviators here in Central Ohio who played a pivotal role in the development of the aviation industry. Read on to learn more about both Lonnie Carmon and the Tuskegee Airmen:
The Tuskegee Airmen
The Tuskegee Airmen was a program of the Army Crops to train African Americans as military pilots. The program started at Tuskegee Army Air Field in Alabama in 1941. At home and abroad during World War II, the Tuskegee Airmen faced enormous odds, including racism. In March of 1946, the Tuskegee Airmen 477th composite group and supporting units began arriving at Lockbourne Air Base here in Central Ohio (now known as Rickenbacker Air National Guard Base). Colonel Benjamin O. Davis took command, becoming the first Black officer to command an Army Air Force base in the continental United States. In 1948, President Harry S. Truman issued Executive Order 9981, which desegregated America’s armed forces. The Tuskegee Airmen, who never lost an escorted bomber to enemy fighters, played a major role in the integration of all US military forces.
Charles McGee, one of the last of the celebrated Tuskegee Airmen, passed away on Sunday, January 16, at the age of 102. McGee flew 409 fighter combat missions during three wars, and worked alongside Black pilots to bring attention to the racism at home while they fought for our nation's freedom abroad.