Tuskegee airmen honored guests at inaugural

They sat in wheelchairs as honored guests at President Barack Obama's second inaugural, attended to almost minute-by-minute by active duty members of the military. For these Tuskegee Airmen, members of the famed all-black unit of World War II and several years beyond, the tables surely turned.
Associated Press
Jan 21, 2013

From the terrace of the Capitol, they watched an African-American president being sworn in for his second term. And they were cared for reverently by many whites in uniform, who more than six decades ago would have had no contact with these two dozen veterans now sitting with green Army blankets across their laps. Several of them said they were at Obama's first inaugural but were just as excited to attend his second.

The tables certainly were turned for Homer Hogues, 85, who marched with his segregated unit in President Harry Truman's inaugural parade in 1949.

The black troops were quartered in a hangar with little heat, while the white military marchers were in a barracks.

"We couldn't do a lot of protesting at the time," said Hogues, a Dallas resident who was a mechanic with his unit working on P-47 Thunderbolt fighters. What would he have told Truman, the president who integrated the armed forces? "I would have asked him, 'Why did he put us in those hangars," said Hogues.

As a civilian, Hogues tried to get a job as an airline mechanic but was told he only could work cleaning planes. He went to work instead in the metalworking industry. He looked forward to seeing Obama again at the Commander In Chief's inaugural ball.

Clayton Lawrence, a retired Air Force lieutenant colonel, was among some 100 black troops disciplined in Indiana in 1945, during a protest when black officers attempted to enter an all-white officers' club. A trainer of B-25 bomber pilots, the 89-year-old former New York City employee received a written reprimand and three officers faced courts-martial.

Transposing that day with the inauguration of the nation's first African-American president, Lawrence said, "I never thought I would live to see it."

Ezra Hill, 82, of Hampton, Va., who was an engineer with the unit, said the Tuskegee Airmen "never gave up" the hope that the military would be integrated. So many times, while he was in uniform, Hill said he was told, "We don't have colored boys here."

Grant Williams, also of Hampton, who had an administrative job with the unit from 1941-45, said the airmen suffered more discrimination in the United States then when they were deployed during World War II.

"We got much better treatment overseas than at home," the 92-year-old said.

 

Comments

2cents

Thank you airmen for doing your part. Times have changed and you helped keep the opportunity open for that to happen. I have a black friend in PA who went into the Navy and learned to fly. He flew an A-10 in Desert Storm from, he went on to fly big jets hauling you and I for United and is now hauling freight for FedEx. His brother was a stock broker and when the twin towers fell the only thing they found of him months later was his wrist watch. These two came from a not so great childhood in Philadelphia and yet found the opportunities that exist in today’s world. By the way, he does not care for our president, thinks he is a giveaway president and does not like paying for his over the top spending.

deertracker

So you say!

2cents

You can be a real D--- sometimes!

wiredmama222

I had heard stories from my dad, who was in the Army air corp in WWII, about the "Red Tails". They were heros one and all. After watching the movie and crying my eyes out, it was apparent that these guys deserved MUCH more than they got in every way.

Great going guys. You truly were heros in every single way. The US owed you much. I don't care what color you are. Hero's don't come in colors, they are born of only one color.....pure GOLD.

deertracker

Agreed!

2cents

So was my dad!

http://412th.org/

2cents

So was my dad!

http://412th.org/

deertracker

I don't think they were "heroes". They were soldiers that did an amazing job protecting their fellow soldiers and defending their country that mistreated them. Shame on the US for that!

looking around

YOU don't think they were hero's? YOU don't have a clue what a hero is! You wouldn't make a pimple on one of these mens a$$!

deertracker

You don't have a clue what a hero is. Where was all this admiration in the past? These were/are great men but I stand by my comment.

looking around

Give me your interpretation. Any veteran who entered combat in my book is a true hero, those who didn't serve need not apply. For those who serve but never were in combat, I thank them for their service and support for those that did and on behalf of all Americans and their Allies.

looking around

I saw a news piece not long ago where a B-17 Bomber Pilot attended the Tuskegee Airmen reunion because he remembered the Red Tails escorting him on a mission in Europe and wanted to thank them. As he reminisced with one of the former airmen it was realized that he flew that mission. After the reunion the familiarity of the pilot and the fact that they were from the same town lead the B-17 pilot to investigate further. In a class picture taken in kindergarten they stood side by side!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a...