A unanimous vote in the House and a 99-1 vote in the Senate assure that a Congressional Gold Medal will be awarded, collectively, to the Tuskegee Airmen. The award recognizes the illustrious military record set by the black airmen during World War II, and their inspiration for the post-war end to racial discrimination in the armed forces.
While Tuskegee Airmen flew fighters and bombers, it was the unique achievement of the fighter pilots that is best known today: They never lost to enemy fighters a single bomber that they escorted on more than 200 missions. Tuskegee Airmen earned more than 850 medals, including 150 Distinguished Flying Crosses, 744 Air Medals, eight Purple Hearts and 14 Bronze Stars. Sixty-six were killed in action and another 32 were taken prisoner. All of the Tuskegee Airmen now are in their late 70s or 80s.
As part of this year’s Tuskegee Airmen Convocation, America’s first African-American military pilots received honorary degrees from Tuskegee University in February.
Between 1940 and 1946, some 1,000 black pilots trained at Tuskegee. Of those still living, 63 attended the convocation.