Tuskegee Airmen Site Dedication Draws More Than 1,500

Article excerpt

History is at home in Tuskegee, where Tuskegee Institute's endeavor to build an airfield led to trained African Americans who dared to become combat airmen in World War II.

History was made again last month on the grounds of Moton Airfield, when more than 1,500 people crowded into and outside of a historic hangar and celebrated the official opening of a temporary visitor center at the Tuskegee Airmen National Historic Site.

The site is a partnership of Tuskegee University, the National Park Service and Tuskegee Airmen Inc. When construction is complete, the site will feature a Visitor Information Center, Library/Archives Research Center, Tuskegee University's Department of Aviation Science, a theater and fully renovated historical structures.

Hundreds of Tuskegee Airmen were on hand for the site dedication, arriving by the busloads from their weeklong annual convention in Atlanta. Many of them were proud of the progress toward making the congressionally established Tuskegee Airmen site happen.

"Five years ago when I came down here this place was in shambles," said Tuskegee Airmen Hampton E. Johnson of Washington, who served from 1942 to 1946. "The hangar's windows were all knocked out. The roof was deteriorating. There has been quite an improvement. I've been amazed."

In 1998, Congress passed legislation authorizing $29 million for the first phase of the Tuskegee Airmen site. So far, only $3.1 million has been released to stabilize existing structures, including the red-brick hangar and tower.

Now it's time to release the remaining funds and appropriate more so that these patriots who fought so valiantly for their country can see the Tuskegee Airmen National Historic Site become a reality, says Dr. …


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