Thursday, March 1, 2012

Pittsburgh Tuskegee Airmen Featured in Education and Media Events

Pittsburgh area Tuskegee Airmen and local historians were featured in two significant events this week.

Penn Hills School District Presents . . . The Tuskegee Airmen

Historians Regis Bobonis Sr. and John
Ford discuss the Tuskegee Airmen
experience at the Penn Hills videoconference. 
Read a Post-Gazette article about the event. 
Photo: Bob Donaldson/Post-Gazette.
Penn Hills School District hosted a national educational videoconference with several Tuskegee Airmen, family members, and noted historians of the Tuskegee experience.  Nine schools from around the country directly participated in the conference and over 122 other schools were registered to view the proceedings.

The Tuskegee Airmen and panelists discussed a range of topics, including military enlistment, training, and their treatment under segregation, which was far worse in America than in Europe, and the significance of the recent George Lucas film, Red Tails.

Noted local participants included Wendell Freeland (a Tuskegee bombardier), Timothy McCray (Tuskegee Airmen support crew), Regis Bobonis Sr. (historian with the Daniel B. Matthews Historical Society) and John Ford (historian with the Soldiers & Sailors Memorial Hall & Museum).

More information about the Penn Hills School District’s Tuskegee Airmen videoconference can be found on its website.

Tuskegee Airmen on the Radio  

Tuskegee Airmen mutiny at Freeman Field. 
Photo: Library of Congress
Another local event dedicated to the Tuskegee Airmen experience was an interview with airmen Ed Harris, Wendell Freeland, and historian Al Monroe by Essential Pittsburgh, a local public radio talk program hosted by Paul Guggenheimer.  The show aired at noon and again at 8 pm on Thursday, May 1, 2012.

Lt. Col. Ed Harris grew up in the Hill District and was trained to fly at Tuskegee.  He would eventually fly 150 missions in bombers, extending into the Korean War.

During the hour-long program Mr. Freeland explained his role in helping to de-segregate the armed forces.  He was one of 162 Army Air Corps officers who defied orders and were arrested for entering a whites only officers’ club in Freeman Field, Indiana.  This and other such incidents helped prompt President Truman’s historic reconsideration of military segregation.

Also featured on the show was Captain Al Monroe (USAF ret.), who heads efforts to complete the Tuskegee Airmen Memorial in Sewickley, PA.  Mr. Monroe spoke of the bravery and sacrifice of all of the Tuskegee Airmen, especially the several airmen who came from the Greater Pittsburgh region.   

The program can be heard in its entirety on the show’s webpage at Essential Public Radio (90.5 FM).