The Tuskegee Airmen is the popular name of a group of African-American pilots who fought in World War II. Formally, they formed the 332nd Fighter Group and the 477th Bombardment Group of the United States Army Air Forces
During the Second World War, a special project is begun by the US Army Air Corps to integrate African American pilots into the Fighter Pilot Program. Known as the "Tuskegee Airman" for the name of the airbase at which they were trained, these men were forced to constantly endure harassment, prejudice, and much behind the scenes politics until at last they were able to prove themselves in combat.
992 pilots were trained in Tuskegee from 1941 to 1946. 355 were deployed overseas, and 84 lost their lives in accidents or combat. The toll included 68 pilots killed in action or accidents, 12 killed in training and non-combat missions and 32 captured as prisoners of war. The Tuskegee Airmen were credited by higher commands with the following accomplishments:
1578 combat missions, 1267 for the Twelfth Air Force; 311 for the Fifteenth Air Force
179 bomber escort missions, with a good record of protection,losing bombers on only seven missions and a total of only 27, compared to an average of 46 among other 15AF P-51 groups
112 enemy aircraft destroyed in the air, another 150 on the ground and 148 damaged
950 rail cars, trucks and other motor vehicles destroyed (over 600 rail cars)
One destroyer put out of action. The ship concerned had been classified as a destroyer (Giuseppe Missori) by the Italian Navy, before being reclassified by the Germans as a torpedo boat, TA 22. It was attacked on 25 June 1944. The German Navy decommissioned it on 8 November 1944, and finally scuttled it on 5 February 1945. 40 boats and barges destroyed.
Awards and decorations included:
Three Distinguished Unit Citations
99th Pursuit Squadron: 30 May–11 June 1943 for actions over Sicily
99th Fighter Squadron: 12–14 May 1944: for successful air strikes against Monte Cassino, Italy
332d Fighter Group (and its 99th, 100th, 301st, and 302nd Fighter Squadrons): 24 March 1945: for a bomber escort mission to Berlin, during which it shot down 3 enemy jets
At least one Silver Star
96 Distinguished Flying Crosses to 95 Airmen; Captain William A. Campbell was awarded two.
14 Bronze Stars
744 Air Medals
8 Purple Hearts