I personally think that the best way we can honor one of our heroes in life is by naming something after them. We sometimes name our children after the people we admire most; it is a great way to honor someone who has shaped our lives importantly in some way. I also think that naming parks, buildings, bridges and anything else that is going to be around a long time after our war heroes, civil servants and others who have served their communities and the armed forces with distinction is a commendable act. Such is the case when I recently read about a former Tuskegee Airman that will have a building named in his honor at West Point Military Academy.
For those of you that are not aware of whom the Tuskegee Airmen are, here is a little background information.
The Tuskegee Airmen were a group of African-American pilots that was formed during World War II. Back then, both the government and the armed services were still highly segregated. Needless to say, it was not a great time to be an African-American in the military. Although they appeared to be highly skilled pilots, the segregation kept them idle when first deployed in Europe. When they finally got to fly bomber escort missions, they were hugely successful and became known as the ‘Red Tails.’ They went from not being given a chance to prove their merit in air combat to a group of pilots that was often requested by bomber pilots to escort their aircraft.
The group’s record speaks for itself. It was once said that they flew 200 missions straight without losing an aircraft to enemy fighter planes, but historians have checked that and it appears that there were only seven missions where the aircraft they escorted took losses – 27 bombers in all. During the same period, the average losses for bomber aircraft to enemy fighter planes by other squadrons were 46. They were credited with shooting down or damaging over 250 enemy aircraft and they became one of the most decorated flying units in the entire war. It is a great story about perseverance and success.
The building at West Point is being named after General Benjamin Oliver Davis Jr. He was only the fourth African-American to graduate from the prestigious academy. During his time there he was largely alone, as no one spoke to him unless it was on an official basis.
At one point during his illustrious career, after he became a Lieutenant Colonel, he ended up commanding the 99th pursuit squadron and eventually ended up commanding the famous ‘Red Tails’ of the 332nd Fighter Group. He was an exceptional pilot that was given a Silver Star, Distinguished Flying Cross and Air Medal for meritorious service and gallantry.
He moved on to the Air Force in 1947, when that branch of the military was formed, and ended up retiring as a three star general in 1970. In 2002, he was promoted to the rank of four star general by President Clinton.
It is very fitting, given his outstanding service record and the perseverance he showed in his climb to the top of the military, that he be rewarded with the naming of the barracks at West Point after him.
Disclaimer: The content in this article is the opinion of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the policies or opinions of US Patriot Tactical.
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