Kate Irving
Black American Airmen
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Prior to the Tuskegee Airmen, there were no military black pilots. The Tuskegee program officially began with formation of the 99thFighter Squadron at the Tuskegee Institute. The Tuskegee Airmen were part of the 332nd fighter group that escorted bombers on air
combat missions over Europe. The Airmen were stationed on the mainland of Italy. From there they escorted bombing raids on
Austria, Hungary, Poland and Germany. By the end of the war, the Tuskegee Airmen were credited with 109 Luftwaffe aircraft shot down,
the German-operated Italian destroyer TA-23 sunk by machine-gun fire, and destruction of numerous fuel dumps, trucks, and trains.

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Joseph Philip Gomer was a Tuskegee airman who went from being a convoy escort to bomber escort. Joseph once said, "We shared the
sky with white pilots, but that's all we shared. We never had contact with each other. German prisoners lived better than black servicemen,
and the Germans treated us better than the Americans did. Our service to this country is something that never got into history books. It was
just ignored. We were fighting two battles. I flew for my parents, for my race, for our battle for first-class citizenship and for my country. We
were fighting for the millions of black Americans back home. We were there to break down barriers, open a few doors, and do a job." Not
only was Joseph fighting the Germans, but he was also fighting discrimination. Even after the integration of white and black pilots, Joseph and
the Tuskegee Airmen still weren’t getting recognition for their impeccable job in the air.