Veterans Day — Tuskegee Airmen broke barriers in the military and sports

From black men who left a successful sports career in the 1940s to join the relay team, to today’s sports personalities inspired by their history, the influence of Tuskegee pilots is still felt.

A group of black fighter pilots, known as the Tuskegee, made history during the Second World War when they took to the skies over Europe and North Africa, as can be seen in the film Red Tails. At that time, the U.S. Army was divided and contained no black pilots. At the instigation of black newspapers and civil rights groups, the Air Force opened a training area for black pilots in Tuskegee, Alabama. More than 14,000 black men and women, most of whom have received higher education, have enrolled in the programme. Among them were men who overcame barriers in the world of sports and influenced some of the most famous faces in modern sport.

Lieutenant Wilmet Sidat-Singh

The first black athlete at Syracuse University took part in basketball and football teams at the end of the 1930s. The union banned him from all white dormitories and put him on the bench repeatedly when opposing teams refused to play black players. After graduation Sidat Singh got wings from Tuskegee pilots. He died at the age of 25 after his bike caught fire during a training session at Lake Khuron. His discarded no. 19 T-shirt hangs in the dome rack.

Modern connectionLt. Colonel John Malzac, grandfather of Tobias Harris and Channing Fry 1/3

Mulzak was one of the 994 pilots who was trained at the Tuskegee Army Air Force Base to fight against the predecessor of the Air Force. He fought in World War II, the Korean War and the Vietnam War. 2/3

Philadelphia 76 forward Tobias Harris (left) and former NBA player Channing Frye, first cousins, grew up when their grandfather told stories about how he flew jets and was a firefighter in New York City. 3/3

The story begins with a play and a plot, and [Mulzak] was part of it, Harris told ESPN earlier this year. It has changed the current situation and many changes are yet to come.

Sergeant Mel Whitfield

The beautiful weather set a record and won gold in the 800 metres at the 1948 London Olympics. Four years later he was the first active soldier to win an Olympic medal when he set his own record and won gold again in the 800 metres. In 1988 she was included in the Olympic Hall of Fame of the United States.

Modern connection Col. Hubert L. Hooky Jones, grandfather of the Ell Duncantop sports center.

After flying Red Tails jets during the Second World War, Jones continued to serve in the U.S. Air Force and also fought in the Korean War. He then taught aviation engineering at the Tuskegee Institute. The Denver branch of Tuskegee Airmen Inc., which introduces young people to aviation, is named after Jones.

Dr. Roscoe C. Brown Jr.

Brown was one of 16 black students on campus when he arrived in Springfield, Massachusetts, College in 1940. He played there for four years in attack and defence, and in 1943 he graduated from university with a farewell diploma. Brown commanded 68 missions with 100 Fighter Squadron and received the Air Force Cross of Merit. After the Second World War he devoted his life to education and humanitarian work. Mr. Brown received the gold medal of the National Football Fund 2012 for his commitment to the public service.

Modern Communication Airport Red Coin Football Form 1/3

The Air Force made its debut as the Airpower Legacy series on the 3rd. October against the Navy. The red dome of the helmet is reminiscent of the flight of the P-51 fighter, nicknamed Red Tails. 2/3

The uniform has yellow stripes on the shoulders, such as the wings of the P-51 Mustangs of the 332nd Fighter Group, which reportedly shot down 112 enemy aircraft during World War II. 3/3

The helmets wear the emblems of the 99th, 100th, 301th and 302nd. Squadron that was part of the 332nd. The success of the 332nd paved the way for President Harry Truman to end racial segregation in the armed forces in 1948.

Captain Lowell Stewart

The steward was captain of the basketball team of Santa Barbara State College (later renamed University of California, Santa Barbara) in 1941, when he and all of his white teammates decided to sign up. He is the only one who was rejected, but he has constantly asked to be admitted to the Tuskegee flight training program. He was awarded the Cross of Merit for his extraordinary merits. At the end of the war Stewart tried to buy a house in California, but they refused again. He obtained a real estate license and became one of the first black real estate agents in the Los Angeles area.

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Christian McCaffrey, Russell Wilson and other NFL stars express their gratitude to the veterans.

Modern connection Col. Lawrence E. Roberts, Father Good Morning, America’s Leading Robin Roberts. 1/3

In 2003 Robin Roberts had the opportunity to go with her father, an air force pilot, to a training ground in Tuskegee where she learned to fly. The bomber jacket she was wearing was her father’s. 2/3

That day she climbed into the cockpit of an old T-6 training plane, similar to the one her father flew. Lawrence has served in the Air Force for 32 years and has won 18 medals and awards. 3/3

Lawrence Roberts died less than a year after this picture was taken. My father was very conservative and not very noisy, and he was so excited to see him like this, Roberts told AARP The Magazine.

I asked my dad what it was like to steal, and he said: It was a freedom I didn’t have as a black man on earth.

John Miles Jr.

Miles studied flight mechanics in Tuskegee, a profession he continued to pursue after returning to his native Texas after the Second World War. He was then asked to join the giants of the Chicago American Negro League. He played for four seasons in the outfield and at third base. Miles’ courage at home plate led Candy’s manager, Jim Taylor, to call him a mule because he hit him as hard as a mule’s shovel.

Lieutenant Colonel John V. Moselle

Mosley, the defender, was the first black player to form a soccer team at A&M (later Colorado) in 1939. He was one of nine black students enrolled at the time, five of whom were from Moseley’s neighbours. Mosley himself paid for his flight training during his studies and was shocked when he was not called to Tuskegee after graduation. Instead, he was sent to a separate army artillery unit in Oklahoma. He wrote letters to Congress and the White House until his transfer to Tuskegee, where he began his almost 30-year career as an Air Force pilot.

Modern connectionDr. Wilbur L. Dangi, father of Tony Dangi.

Coach Hall of Fame Tony Dunga wrote in his book Silent Power that he only heard of his military service after the death of his father in 2004. After the Second World War, Wilbur Dangi obtained his scholarship, bachelor and doctoral degrees and started his career in education. He wasn’t allowed to teach in the divorced white schools in Arlington, Virginia, but that didn’t stop him. He returned to Michigan and became the first black professor at Jackson Community College, where he taught for 16 years. My father taught me not to complain about the situation and to do my best to make it work. He also said that no one should decide who he is or be arrested by anyone.

To find out more about Tuskegee’s double win and to listen to Disney+’s free Red Tails, visit

Photographic credits : AP Photo, Colorado State Athletics, ESPN Images, Getty Images, Harris Family, Isaiah J. J. Downing, Los Angeles Branch / Tuskegee Airmen Inc, Margot Jordan Photo, Mosley Family, Baseball Museum Negro Leagues, Randolph Scott / Tuskee Airmen Inc, Syracuse, University Archives, Tony Frissell / Library of Congress, Trevor Cockley / U.S. Air Force Photo, University Archives / Library of Congress, Trevor Cockley / U.S. Air Force.

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