Remembrance Ceremony Held by Tuskegee Airmen

The Tuskegee Airmen were highly useful during the Second World War, and they took part in some of the most famed air missions from the conflict. On Memorial Day, a few of the pilots and crew members involved in such missions gathered together in memoriam of their war service. Among them as well was a bomber pilot who flew a mission with the Tuskegee Airmen, who were among the first black airborne servicemen.

Among the attendees were Roscoe Brown and Bill Strapko. As a squadron commander, it was Brown’s job to aid Strapko in his offense against German troops. Strapko was in charge of leading several B-17 bombers against a Berlin site, resulting in a famed yet dangerous mission. The Tuskegee Airmen had altogether six representatives in New York on Memorial Day, all of whom were either present for or at least aware of the mission flown by Strapko and Roscoe. The strike against Berlin began in Italy, which was also under fascist regime at the time of their mission, the Saratogian Historical Events reports.

The strike against Berlin was not just significant for its military purpose, but also for the record that it set. American bomber pilots had not flown a mission with as long a scope (1600 miles) with the assistance of fighter squadrons ever before in the European Theater. The Tuskegee Airmen had already set a record and become a part of history with their part in integrating the war effort, but they also helped to raise the bar in terms of military achievement. They flew bravely, despite the reputation that German jet fights had for their ruthlessness.

Both the bombers and the fighters involved in the mission took out three each of the German jets. The ME-262 planes they faced were among the most advanced models that the Germans had to throw at the Tuskegee Airmen at the time. When Brown and Strapko met in New York for the Memorial Day commemoration, they were able to meet not only as friends but also as respected and admired colleagues who faced death together and came out on the winning side.

The Tuskegee Airmen made history by their very inclusion in the war, but they also excelled in their duties. Not many may remain today, as is the tragedy with all WWII veterans, but stories of the Tuskegee Airmen can still live on in glory for many years to come as a source of inspiration.

Ian Harvey

Ian Harvey is one of the authors writing for WAR HISTORY ONLINE