There should be a limit to the latitude given Blacks during Black History Month. Case in point is the letter "Tuskegee Airmen were the best.", by Raymond Smith, of Oceanport. This is an insult to the white pilots who served in WWII, but hey, no matter, this is February, right?
The claim to fame of the Tuskegee Airmen is that no bomber escorted by the 332nd Fighter Group ever lost a bomber that they were assigned to escort. That's good, but the best? Hardly. This is a statistical bit that was dug up from records for display purposes. A similar claim could be made of the all White Naval Aviators who manned the Blimps that escorted the Atlantic convoys, without ever losing a ship, but alas, there is no White History Month, wherein this claim could be made.
The Group destroyed 251 enemy aircraft, but there were NO Aces among the group. The most kills attributed to any pilot was 4. Those men were Edward L. Toppins, of the 99th Fighter Squadron, and Lee A. Archer, of the 302nd Fighter.
Compare this to the claim of the author of the letter who stated they destroyed 400 German fighters in a single battle, gladly accepted as fact by The Asbury Park Press, whose management saw fit to move to Neptune from Asbury Park, due to the high crime rate..
Black History Month is History, once again. Praise the Lord!
The key to understanding the Tuskegee Airman is that it was a showcase unit. FDR's administration knew very well the racial component in the war, and they wanted to contradict National Socialist ideas on race. The members were the cream of their crop. Tuskegee is the most highly respected Black academic institution in the US, if not the world, certainly then, if not still now. These people were the best they had. They then gave them special training, I heard that they had twice the flight hours of typical USAAF units. They were given the best planes available, and in the beginning they were sent to a secondary theatre in order to gain experience. So, yes, they never lost a bomber they escorted, but most of the missions they escorted were B-25 raids in Italy, which meant no resistance anyway. By they time they were escorting B-17's and B-24's into Germany it was late in the war, the Luftwaffe was too enfeebled to resist. So the truth, and thus the focus of the discussion of the Tuskegee flyers is their special status as a showcase unit, and not whatever descrimination they received. --John McK
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