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A Tuskegee Airman Remembers Those Who Supported The Pilots And The Country's Acknowledgment

President Bush, center, greets Tuskegee Airmen Lt. Col. Alexander Jefferson, left, during a ceremony in the Capitol Rotunda in Washington, Thursday, March 29, 2007, awarding the Tuskegee Airmen with Congressional Gold Medals. AP Photo by Susan Walsh
Susan Walsh
The Associated Press

A former Tuskegee airman says he and his fellow pilots suffered discrimination from their white counter parts, but ultimately proved they were as good as anyone else in protecting the country During World War II. Retired Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Jefferson will speak at an event at the Air Zoo Friday night. 

Jefferson is a native of Detroit. He was part of the 332nd Fighter Group. In 2007, more than 60 years after the end of World War II, Jefferson and others were at the White House to receive the Congressional Gold Medal. 

“Finally the country acknowledged some of the misdeeds that the Tuskegee airmen underwent.”

Jefferson says the pilots also relied on many others to carry out their mission.

“People in all occupations to support the guys who were flying.”

In August of 1944 German soldiers captured Jefferson after his plane was shot down and he became a prisoner of war. Jefferson says the Tuskegee Airmen were highly decorated:

“We had guys who received the Purple Heart, which means they were injured. We had 25 men who got the Bronze Star for an act of courage.”

Jefferson received the Purple Heart in 2001 for injuries he suffered in 1944.

Friday night’s event at the Air Zoo is part of Black History Month and the Kalamazoo area’s Martin Luther King Junior celebration. It runs from 7:00p.m. until 9:00p.m.

NPR did stories on the Tuskegee Airmen and Alexander Jefferson in 2006 and in 2011

Gordon Evans became WMUK's Content Director in 2019 after more than 20 years as an anchor, host and reporter. A 1990 graduate of Michigan State, he began work at WMUK in 1996.
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