Original Tuskegee Airmen visit Eastern Shore on Veterans Day
PRINCESS ANNE, Md. – It was a very memorable Veterans Day for hundreds of local students who heard from two living legends. Colonel Charles McGee and Dr. Harry Quinton, two documented original Tuskegee Airmen, were honored at the University of Maryland Eastern Shore on Monday.
“They’re veterans but they were different, treated differently. Yet still they fought for our country,” says Dr. Bill Burrell, the President of the Tidewater Chapter Tuskegee Airmen.
These two men broke barriers while paving the way for others in the process. They continue to share their stories with others especially on Veterans Day so that the contributions of Tuskegee Airmen are never forgotten.
“This is such an honor to be a Veteran but to represent so many others on this Veterans Day really tops it indeed. I’m very honored,” says Col. McGee.
The Tuskegee Airmen served in World War II, the first African-American pilots in the United States military.
“To understand the environment in which it all formulated in a very segregated America, fringe of World War I, coming through the Great Depression. As Colonel McGee said also everybody knew that it was time for us to do something for our country and they had to fight for that right to fight,” says Burrell.
They’re sharing their story because it’s often left untold. “Most of the history heard today is not in our history book and that is the fallacy that’s missing that we have to correct,” says Burrell.
But those who know the history of these pilots know just how important their service is to the United States.
“The Tuskegee Airmen did this and this led to you being able to do this today and that today. It’s all been a trickle effect,” says Tiffany Jackson, a UMES student in the Aviation Science Program.
Almost 80 years later, their accomplishments are inspiring the next generation of pilots. “Very humbling and it was a real tear jerking moment because I think about how the program for Tuskegee Airmen that I did in high school is the start of me loving aviation,” says Jackson.
Colonel Charles McGee and Dr. Harry Quinton are two of the last surviving Tuskegee Airmen. If they weren’t impressive already they’re both celebrating birthdays next month. Colonel McGee will turn 100 years old and Dr. Quinton will celebrate his 94th birthday.
According to the Tuskegee Airmen National Historical Museum almost 1-thousand Tuskegee Airmen graduated between 1942 and 1946. They flew more than 18-hundred missions during World War II.