Tuskegee Airmen

arthur-ward-1Arthur W. Ward during flight training in World War II. (Photo provided by Deborah S. Ward)

By George Morris

As the United States neared its entry into World War II, the world wondered whether England would fall to German bombs or the Soviet Union would fall to Nazi troops.
For much of black America, though, attention focused on the small, East Alabama town of Tuskegee. There, a racial barrier was falling.
Of blacks’ numerous contributions to Allied victory, perhaps none is as compelling as the story of the Tuskegee Airmen. Resisted by the American military at home and enemies abroad, they advanced the civil rights struggle in an area where many doubted they could succeed — in the skies.
Although the airmen’s names are seldom mentioned in war history, Baton Rouge resident Arthur W. Ward knows them well. Ward, a retired Southern University professor, went through wartime pilot training there.
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WASPs left their mark on World War II

Women_Airforce_Service_PilotsFrances Green, Margaret “Peg” Kirchner, Ann Waldner and Blanche Osborn during WASP ferry training on the B-17 Flying Fortress (U.S. Air Force photo)

By George Morris

There was a lot the U.S. Army Air Forces couldn’t have imagined on Dec. 6, 1941. One was Marion Brown.

After the next day, eyes and minds started opening rather quickly.

There was no doubt that, for the first time in history, a major war would involve a significant contribution by air forces. It was planes, not ships, that attacked Pearl Harbor, and it was German fighter planes, dive bombers and heavy bombers that blitzed through Europe and pounded England. It took little imagination to envision that airmen would have an enormous role.

But women? They would have a part to play, too, even if not in combat.

Continue reading “WASPs left their mark on World War II”