The Tuskegee Airmen

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• Part 2: Battlefield Successes

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• World War II

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Part 1: Training Days

The Tuskegee Airmen were the first African-American pilots group in the U.S. Army. They were also one of the most distinguished units to fight in World War II.

The Tuskegee Institute, a university in Tuskegee, Alabama, was the first home of the 99th Fighter Squadron. There, soldiers underwent initial training to be pilots and groundcrew. Tuskegee was considered an ideal place for aviation training because the area had good flying weather year-round and because the university had ample land to support an airfield and its needs.

The first training took place at Moton Field, and the Airmen then moved to Tuskegee Army Air Field. Once there, the Airmen came under the command of Capt. Benjamin O. Davis, Jr. Davis (left) was one of a select few African-Americans who had graduated from the U.S. Army Academy at West Point. In fact, Benjamin O. Davis Sr. was the first African-American general in the Army.

The African-Americans at Tuskegee were initially trained under segregated conditions, and a Congressional committee nearly pulled the plug on the "experiment," after reading a report alleging that African-Americans in general possessed too little intelligence to make good soldiers.

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