I had lunch with an original Tuskegee Airman today, Mr. Mervin Harmon.
He was an aircraft mechanic in those days and as much a part of the legacy of these men as anyone. As a former military aviator, I recognize that without the efforts of the folks on the ground keeping our birds running nothing we do in the air matters. In fact, without them, there is no doing anything in the air.
These men, the Tuskegee Airmen, were part of a period of our military and American history that until the late 1990s and 2000s really hadn't gotten the same recognition that many of our other veterans of WWII received. While an unforunate occurrence, today I and a few others were at least able to show our respect to this man, his lost peers, and a generation of others who fought the war on two fronts - against the Axis powers and against racial prejudice. I cannot imagine having to go through the experiences they did. Imagine, German POWs had more privileges on American bases than these American airmen did. And they didn't blink an eye when they went to war to defend America and her allies.
The WWII generation is slowly leaving us and it is important that we remember them, take the time to talk with those who still survive, and never forget the sacrifices they made. We will likely never see combat on the scale these men experienced again. The nature of war has changed, and the politics that once found the level of blood shed during that era necessary or acceptable will (hopefully) never arise again. I also hope that the circumstances necessitating that level of conflict never resurface either.
My hats off to them all. Bravo Zulu.