Tuskegee exhibit gives Quincy a chance to learn about one of its heroes

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QUINCY — Randy Phillips of Randy Industries gives us a look at the Tuskegee Airmen exhibit at Quincy Regional Airport. Randy is a pilot as well as a videographer, so this is best of both worlds for him.

The exhibit has a 53-foot mobile theatre and a fully restored P-51C Mustang, an aircraft flown by the Tuskegee Airmen during World War II, to tell the stories of the men and women who served in this squadron.

Students from Quincy’s Iles Elementary School were on hand to learn more about their school’s namesake, Col. George J. Iles, a native Quincyan who flew 23 missions as part of the famed 99th Fighter Squadron of the 332nd Fighter Group, also known as the Tuskegee Airmen, America’s first squadron of black fighter pilots.

The Quincy Masonic High Twelve Club is sponsoring the exhibit called CAF Rise Above at Quincy Regional Airport this weekend. It is open to the public on Friday and Saturday, Oct. 6 and 7, from 9 a.m. until 4:30 p.m. Freewill donations will be accepted.

 Quincy Transit Lines, in cooperation with the Quincy Regional Airport, is offering a shuttle bus to assist people who want to see the Tuskegee Airmen display at the airport on Saturday. The shuttle will be parked near the bus shelter on the north parking lot at the Quincy Town Center near the College Street entrance.

The shuttle will begin running at 9 a.m. from the Quincy Town Center and will leave every 45 minutes throughout the day. The final shuttle will leave the Town Center at 3 p.m. and remain at the airport to return all passengers to the Town Center at 3:45 p.m

What exactly is a Tuskegee Airman?

Tuskegee Airmen is the name given to members of the U.S. Army Air Force units in World War II who were comprised primarily of African American flyers and maintenance crews, though a few white officers and trainers were involved. The group compiled an impressive record, primarily in the Mediterranean Theater of Operations, despite facing frequent resistance to their presence in the formerly all-white Army Air Corps.

What are the Red Tails?

“Red Tails” was a nickname given to the Tuskegee Airmen during their time in service during World War II. It evolved from the bomber pilots referring to their Tuskegee Airmen fighter escorts as Red Tail Angels because because of their reputation and record for keeping the bombers safe on their dangerous missions over enemy territory.

How many missions did the Tuskegee Airmen fly?

About 450 Tuskegee Airmen flew 15,000 ground attacks, coastal patrol and bomber escort combat missions in North Africa and Europe.

The term “Tuskegee Airmen” is not an official USAF definition but was invented by Charles Francis when he wrote his 1955 book with that title. The USAF does not define the term and does not determine who is or is not a Tuskegee Airman.

For more information on the CAF Rise Above organization, visit cafriseabove.org.

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