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Two Tuskegee Airmen to Visit Daytona Beach to Talk Race and Flying

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The Tuskegee Airmen fought overseas combat missions during World War II. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

The Tuskegee Airmen fought overseas combat missions during World War II. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

Lieutenant Colonel Leo Gray and Lieutenant Colonel George Hardy are two of the twenty-three remaining Tuskegee Airmen “Red Tails” who flew combat missions overseas during World War II. Tonight, the country’s first black military pilots will talk race and aviation.

91-year-old Gray remembers his experience as rewarding, but challenging to rise up the ranks.

“In World War II, there were only five full colonels in the whole of the armed forces,” he said in a phone interview. “Now, we’ve got more four star generals than that. We’ve got so many generals now, we don’t know even know who they are. We’ve come a long way.”

Gray encourages more black youth to consider careers in aviation. He cites a shortage in the military and airline industry.

“The airlines need pilots to fly those airplanes. Where are they coming from?” he asked. “You want to fly. It’s a very expensive proposition. We need mechanics, air traffic controllers, radio operators, and if the airline doesn’t shell out some money to get this training, who’s going to do it?”

The Armed Forces trained just 355 pilots as Tuskegee Red Tails.

Gray and fellow Red Tail Lieutenant Colonel Hardy will speak at Embry Riddle Aeronautical University at 7 p.m.

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About Renata Sago

Renata Sago