Mariel Saez 202-225-3130
WASHINGTON, DC – House Democratic Whip Steny H. Hoyer (MD) released the following statement on the 75th anniversary of the activation of the 99th Pursuit Squadron, the first of several units of African-American airmen trained in Tuskegee, Alabama who served during World War II:
“Today, our nation marks the seventy-fifth anniversary of the activation of the 99th Pursuit Squadron, the first of several units of African-American airmen trained in Tuskegee, Alabama, and who served with distinction during World War II. As we remember the heroism of those who volunteered to serve overseas even while facing discrimination at home, I join in paying tribute to the 992 Tuskegee pilots who took to the skies over Europe with bravery and determination, including the eighty-four who never came home. Flying more than 1,500 combat missions and 179 bomber escort missions – and outperforming many all-white air combat units – the Tuskegee units played a critical role both in achieving victory against fascism in Europe and in changing attitudes on the home-front. Their successes were instrumental in the eventual desegregation of our military and the rise of the Civil Rights Movement in the years that followed.
“I was proud to join with my colleagues in 2007 to award the Tuskegee airmen a Congressional Gold Medal, the highest recognition our federal legislature can bestow, and I was honored to interview one of the Tuskegee airmen for the Veterans History Project that year and record his story for posterity. As we remember the extraordinary service and exploits of these heroes, let us always strive to ensure that the principles of democracy and equality that we defend and promote around the world are fully protected and enshrined in our laws here at home.”