Tuskegee Airman swears in new Marines in Tampa
by Staff Sgt. Randy Redman
The Tampa Military Entrance Processing Station was visited by one of the original Tuskegee Airman as part of its celebration of Black History month Feb. 11.
Judge Robert Albert Decatur administered the oath of allegiance to six prospective Marines on their way to life as enlisted men. He also took the time to share some of his experiences as part of the first all-Black fighter pilot squadron during World War II.
"More than one thousand men were hand-picked to take flying training at the segregated enclave in Tuskegee, Alabama," said Judge Decatur. "Of the ones who made it, we went on to achieve an unfathomable record in aviation history. We never lost a single plane during our time as bomber escorts."
The Tuskegee Airmen overcame the segregation and prejudice which was part of the American culture at the time, to become one of the most highly respected fighter groups of WWII. They proved conclusively that African Americans could fly and maintain sophisticated combat aircraft. The Tuskegee Airmen's achievements, together with the men and women who supported them, paved the way for full integration of the U.S. military.
Judge Decatur urged the staff of the MEPS and all in attendance during the celebration to remember the legacy of the Tuskegee Airmen.
"We fought two wars; segregation and discrimination on the home front, and the enemy across the sea," said Judge Decatur. "Eventually we conquered both."