08/01/2012 § 1 Comment
It is with great excitement that I look forward to the release of Red Tails, the retelling of the story of the Tuskegee Airmen, on January 20. The film was produced by George Lucas, directed by Anthony Hemingway and stars Terrence Howard and Cuba Gooding, Jr.
The Tuskegee Airmen were the first African American pilots in the United States armed forces and served in World War II, facing remarkable adversity and racism within the military as well as society at large. After African American soldiers were denied the opportunity to fly in World War I, Congress forced the War Department to begin training African American pilots in 1939, and forced the Army Air Corps to form an all-black fighter unit in 1941. The 99th Pursuit Squadron was formed in March 1941 and the unit was eventually expanded into the 332nd Fighter Group when the 100th Fighter Squadron, 301st Fighter Squadron and 302nd Fighter Squadron were added. The group saw action in Europe and North Africa, and are well-known for their excellence flying escorts for heavy bombers. The nickname “Red Tails” came from the distinctive red paint the pilots had applied to the tails of their planes.
The main reason for my excitement is my personal connection to the Tuskegee Airmen. My great uncle, Col. Edward Creston Gleed, served as the 302nd Fighter Squadron commander during WWII. He personally had two confirmed kills, while his squadron accounted for almost one third of the aerial victories recorded by the 332nd. He also served as operations officer for the 332nd. As you can expect, my family is exceptionally proud and very excited to see his story brought to life on the big screen. I can’t wait.