Tuskegee Airman Hold Last Reunion


They never missed a rendezvous with bombers over war-torn Europe but the Tuskegee Airmen say they’ve had their last formal reunion. Members of the famed Red Tail squadron, unfortunately known as much for their heritage as their skill in the air, are getting too old to stage the annual event, which this year drew dozens of the P-51 fighter pilots, support crew and friends to Orlando. Of the original 992 African American aviators who made up the 99th, 100th, 301st and 302nd Fighter Groups, only about 200 are still alive and they’re in their 80s. About 50 died in the past year. The remaining members will still get to meet each year but they’ll do so in conjunction with another group of younger black aviators. The Tuskegee Airmen was founded in 1972 as a way to encourage young black people to become pilots. It grew to 45 chapters throughout the country and membership was opened to include other military people, relatives of squadron members and associate members with no affiliation who shared the same goals.