02.28.06

Supporting the Awarding of the Congressional Gold Medal to the Tuskegee Airmen

Mr. SCHIFF. Mr. Speaker, I rise today in support of H. Res. 1259, a resolution to honor the Tuskegee Airmen. I would also like to express my appreciation for their heroism and bravery. These men deserve the Nation's highest honor for their courage and patriotism.

In July 1941, 13 young Americans began military flight training at the Tuskegee Army Air Field in Tuskegee, AL. Five of those 13 young men completed training and received their Army Air Corps silver pilot wings, becoming our Nation's first African-American military fighter pilots. They would later be known as the Tuskegee Airmen.

Between 1941 and 1946, 1992 pilots graduated at Tuskegee Army Air Field, with 450 of those serving during World War II in either the famed 99th Fighter Squadron or the 332nd Fighter Group. Both units, heralded for their bravery and tenacity, received more than one Presidential Unit Citation for exemplary tactical air support and aerial combat. The group also felt the price of war, losing 150 pilots while in training or on combat flights.

It has been said that the Tuskegee Airmen faced two wars--one against a military force overseas and the other against racism and bigotry at home and abroad. Yet, in the face of these challenges, they accepted their country's call to service and fought heroically in great battles for freedom.

I am honored to represent 3 of these courageous individuals: Mr. O. Oliver Goodall of Altadena, CA; Mr. Andrew Jack Simon of South Pasadena, CA; and Mr. LeRoy Criss of Pasadena, CA. They received their training and joined the ranks of Tuskegee Airmen in 1942 and 1943. Today, I honor Mr. Goodall, Mr. Simon, Mr. Criss, and all other Tuskegee Airmen who served our country with valor and distinction.