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The Air Force football team will honor the Tuskegee Airmen with the 2020 edition of the Airpower Legacy Series uniform
The Air Force football team will honor the Tuskegee Airmen with the 2020 edition of the Airpower Legacy Series uniform. The Falcons will debut the special uniform for the Navy game, Oct. 3, in Falcon Stadium.
The uniform is gray with black lettering. The chrome base gray helmet features the P-51 aircraft flown by the Tuskegee Airmen in combat with signature red tails and nose that helped identify the group. The helmet features the four squadron emblems for the 99th, 100th, 301st and 302nd fighter squadrons. The pants feature an authentic stenciled information graphic on the side. The custom nameplate on the jersey says Red Tails, inspired by hand-lettered names painted on the side of the P-51 aircraft.
This year marks the fifth season of the Airpower Legacy Series, started in 2016 to honor the Air Force’s rich history. The team honored the World War II Flying Tigers of the U.S. Army Air Forces that year, followed by the F-35 aircraft in 2017. The team honored the AC-130 in 2018 and the C-17 aircraft last season.
The Tuskegee Airmen were a group of African-American pilots and ground crew from the U.S. Army Air Forces commissioned by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt in September 1940. The pilots began their training at Moton Field in Tuskegee, Alabama. More than 900 pilots graduated from the program and more than 350 served in active duty as fighter pilots. Together with ground crew, there were more than 14,000 Tuskegee Airmen, which was a small minority of the total number of blacks that served in the Army Air Force in World War II.
The first African-American officer to solo an Army Air Corps aircraft was Benjamin O. Davis, Jr., who became the commander of the 99th Fighter Squadron, the first all-African American air unit. The Air Force Academy airfield was renamed in his honor in November 2019 and is now the General Davis Airfield.
In early 1944, the 99th was joined by the 100th, 301st and 302nd to form the 332nd Fighter Squadrons. They were the only African-American fighter group in the Army Air Forces and the only group to have four squadrons instead of three. Assigned the color red for identification purposes, the 332nd became known as the Red Tails and Red Tail Angels for the success escorting bombers into enemy territory, the best record among Air Force fighter groups.
The 332nd was credited with shooting down 12 German planes in two days in January 1944, flying more than 15,000 sorties and shooting down 112 enemy planes total. The unit earned 96 Distinguished Flying Crosses and three Distinguished Unit Citations. The success of the Tuskegee Airmen helped lay the groundwork for the civil rights movement and influenced President Harry Truman’s decision to desegregate the armed forces in 1948.
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