In spite of adversity and limited opportunities, African Americans have played a significant role throughout U.S. military history. They were denied military leadership roles and skilled training because many believed they lacked qualifications for combat duty. Before 1940, African Americans were barred from flying for the U.S. military. Civil Rights organizations and the
African American press exerted pressure that resulted in the formation of an all-African American pursuit squadron based in Tuskegee, Alabama, in 1941. They became known as the Tuskegee Airmen. A feature of the Frontiers of Flight Museum’s WWII Gallery for many years, the Tuskegee Airmen exhibit has recently been expanded. The expanded exhibit features additional graphics which includes images from personal collections of the Airmen not previously published, an interactive “Geographic Chronology” of the Airmen in combat showing the locations of their bases in the Mediterranean area, self-guided “take-home” activities for our younger visitors, and a new LED display with an illustrated timeline of the Tuskegee Airmen’s history.
A dedication reception was held on Veterans Day in 2012. This occasion payed tribute to not only these legendary veterans, but to also give acknowledgement and appreciation to the wives of the Airmen for the immensely supportive roles they have had in their husbands’ lives. This event was particularly memorable because it was one of the rare occasions that the six North Texans who were part of the original Tuskegee Airmen were assembled together. They included: Homer Hogues, Robert T. McDaniel, Lloyd B. “Mac” McKeethen, Joseph B. Montgomery, Claude R. Platte and Calvin J. Spann.
In Memoriam, Lt. Calvin Spann, 1924-2015
Lt. Calvin Spann, 1924-2015, was one of the original Tuskegee Airmen to take flight during World War II. Lt. Spann was a great friend of the Museum and believed and supported in our mission to educate, motivate and inspire the next generation. He was a frequent visitor and always willing to visit with a student and encourage them study hard and do well in school. He was an inspiration to us all, a great hero and will be greatly missed. He passed away Sunday, September 6, 2015 at his home in Allen, Texas.