Report Debunks Tuskegee Legend

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The legend that says the escorts flown by the Tuskegee Airmen during World War II never lost a bomber to enemy aircraft fire is just that -- a legend, according to a report by an historian at the Air Force Historical Research Agency. The preliminary findings of the research became known last year, but the final report was coincidentally released last week, just as the Airmen were awarded a Congressional Gold Medal. Historian Daniel Haulman's research was based on reports filed by the bomber units and fighter groups, as well as air-crew records and reports from eyewitnesses. He documented 25 aircraft that were lost on five days. The legend seems to have grown from an unsubstantiated newspaper story that was published in 1945, Haulman said. "All of these records have been here all along," he said. "It was just a matter of putting them together." William Holton, national historian for the Tuskegee Airmen, did not dispute the findings, saying the discovery of lost bombers in no way tarnishes the Airmen's record. "Our outreach is always to younger people," he told the Montgomery Advertiser. "If we're going to get them in to support the legacy that was built up during the war, that legacy should be perpetuated by truthful methods, rather than by believing in myths."