Feb 09 2005

SHELBY AND SESSIONS INTRODUCE RESOLUTION HONORING THE TUSKEGEE AIRMEN

U.S. Sens. Jeff Sessions and Richard Shelby have introduced a resolution honoring the Tuskegee Airmen for their bravery in fighting for freedom in World War II and for their contribution in creating an integrated United States Air Force.

“I am proud to recognize the great accomplishments of the Tuskegee airmen, honor their service and thank them for their dedication to racial equality in the United States Armed Services” Sessions said today.

Shelby said, “I am pleased to have worked with Senator Sessions on this resolution to honor the brave and selfless contributions of the Tuskegee Airmen during World War II. These men put their love of country above all else to fight for their nation, and this resolution is a small token of our appreciation for their heroic actions.”

The resolution, which was introduced late Tuesday, is the first official recognition of the Tuskegee Airmen by Congress. The acknowledgment of the Tuskegee Airmen coincides with Black History Month and the 60th anniversary of the end of World War II. Some of the 10 surviving members are scheduled to attend a Congressional tribute luncheon in March.

In 1940, President Franklin D. Roosevelt created the all-African American flying squadron, the 99th Pursuit Squadron, and a base was opened at the Tuskegee Institute for their training. The Tuskegee Airmen, who flew raids and protected bombers on missions, never lost a bomber to enemy fire in more than 200 combat missions during the war, a record unmatched by any other fighter group.

Their achievements also include 150 Distinguished Flying Crosses, 744 Air Medals, eight Purple Hearts and 14 Bronze Stars.

Sessions visited the 332nd Air Expeditionary Wing at Balad Air Force Base outside Baghdad during his visit to Iraq in January. The 332nd Air Expeditionary Wing evolved in part from the Tuskegee Airmen.

The House of Representatives could pass its version of the resolution sponsored by Rep. Mike Rogers (R-AL) as early as today.