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Living Legend Buford Johnson Speaks of Tuskegee Airman

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Tuskegee Airman, Inc.'s Riverside Chapter Buford Johnson recently was the guest of honor at the Inland Empire African American Chamber of Commerce or IEACC chamber mixer at Alvarez Lincoln, Mercury, Jaguar in the Riverside Auto Center.

"Buford is a living part of American history.  We are excited that we can hear the story of the Tuskegee Airmen as Americans first Black air squadron and their contribution to winning the second world war", said Dolores Armstead, IEACC chamber vice president. 

According to the history on the organizations website. http://www.tuskegeeairmen.org/Tuskegee_Airmen_History.html  The Tuskegee Airmen were dedicated determined young men who enlisted to become America's first Black military airmen at a time when there were many people who thought that Black men lacked intelligence, skill, courage and patriotism. They came from every section of the country, with large numbers coming from New York City, Washington, Los Angeles, Chicago, Philadelphia and Detroit. Each one possessed a strong personal desire to serve the United States of America at the best of his ability. 

Tuskegee Airmen, retired Lt. Col. Harry Stewart, retired Master Sgt. Buford Johnson, and retired Lt. Col. James Harvey III, stand in the restoration hangar of the National Museum of the United States Air Force. The three spoke about racial discrimination

The Black airmen who became single-engine or multi-engine pilots were trained at Tuskegee Army Air Field (TAAF) in Tuskegee Alabama. The first aviation cadet class began in July 1941 and completed training nine months later in March 1942. Thirteen started in the first class. Five successfully completed the training, one of them being Captain Benjamin O. Davis, Jr., a West Point Academy graduate. The other four were commissioned second lieutenants, and all five received Army Air Corps silver pilot wings.

From 1942 through 1946, nine hundred and ninety-four pilots graduated at TAAF, receiving commissions and pilot wings. Black navigators, bombardiers and gunnery crews were trained at selected military bases elsewhere in the United States.

Four hundred and fifty of the pilots who were trained at TAAF served overseas in either the 99th Pursuit Squadron (later the 99th Fighter Squadron) or the 332nd Fighter Group. The 99th Fighter Squadron trained in and flew P-40 Warhawk aircraft in combat in North Africa, Sicily and Italy from April 1943 until July 1944 when they were transferred to the 332nd Fighter Group in the 15th Air Force.

The outstanding record of Black airmen in World War II was accomplished by men whose names will forever live in hallowed memory. Each one accepted the challenge, proudly displayed his skill and determination while suppressing internal rage from humiliation and indignation caused by frequent experiences of racism and bigotry, at home and overseas. These airmen fought two wars - one against a military force overseas and the other against racism at home and abroad.

Alvarez Lincoln, Mercury, Jaguar and Arrowhead Credit Union sponsored the chamber mixer.

Founded in 1990, the IEAACC helps African American businesses; families and professionals succeed in the Inland Empire.   For more information about the IEAACC call (909) 888-5223 or go online to http://www.ieaacc.com  .

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