Saturday, March 03, 2012

Tuskegee Airmen on Essential Public Radio, Essential Pittsburgh

A new radio program on 90.5 called Essential Pittsburgh promises to have some interesting programming. A recent episode has fascinating interviews with men who were Tuskegee Airmen during WWII. Our area has a very strong connection to this group. For the rdio program, which has great interviews with 3 of the WWII pilots, go here
Regarding the Tuskegee Airmen:From the Tribune Review, Oct.8,2009:

The Tuskegee Airmen was a group of African-American pilots who flew with distinction during World War II as the 332nd Fighter Group of the Army Air Corps. Joyce Jones, new president of the Sewickley-based historical society and a former teacher, said there is no mention of the Tuskegee Airmen in school curriculum.

"These people came from this area," she said. "The children can relate to that. I'm very pleased, happy and excited (about the society's involvement in the new chapter)."

There were 983 Tuskegee pilots, eight of whom were from Sewickley.

"That concentration, because it's such a small area, is more than Chicago and Detroit, which have millions of people. They had more pilots, but the percentage here is greater," Effort said.

Tuskegee Airmen also came from other Pittsburgh neighborhoods, such as Beltzhoover, Homewood and East Liberty, said Effort.

"These guys are everywhere," said Effort. "Their legacy goes further than the war. They were the creme de la creme of the African-American race."

Effort's vision for the local chapter includes continuing the mission of preserving this piece of history, fundraising and getting children interested in flying.

Jones said the group is planning a large fundraiser for the chapter. Other ideas include starting a Sewickley Tuskegee Airmen Day and having representatives march in Veterans and Memorial Day parades. They are exploring the idea of putting plaques in town listing the men's names.

The society, entering its 40th year, would like to get local schools involved in teaching the Tuskegee history.

Bobonis, along with Effort and his wife, Elaine, are the other founders of the Greater Pittsburgh chapter. Her father, the late Sgt. Vernol Leapheart, was the crew chief of all the combat planes flown by Col. B.O. Davis, commanding officer of the Tuskegee Fighter Group that flew over North Africa and Western Europe during World War II.

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