Arlington National Cemetery

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Prior to World War II, the U.S. military did not permit African Americans to become aviators, in spite of the numerous accomplishments of black civilian pilots during the first decades of the aerial age. By the early 1940s, however, as American involvement in the European conflict intensified, military leaders had grown concerned about a shortage of trained pilots in the United States. Meanwhile, civil rights organizations and black newspapers were publicly urging the military to allow African Americans to fly. Thus, in June 1941, the U.S. Army Air Corps launched an experimental training program for black aviators, located at Tuskegee Army Airfield near Tuskegee Institute, a historically black university in Alabama. Between 1941 and 1946, 966 African American men completed military pilot training at Tuskegee. The “Tuskegee Airmen” formed the 332nd Fighter Group and the 477th Composite Group of the U.S. Army Air Forces. These mostly black units (often commanded by white officers) completed more than 1,800 missions during World War II, which included 351 bomber escort missions and 112 aerial victories. Their loss record was among the lowest of all American escort fighter groups, and the 332nd Fight Group received the Presidential Unit Citation.

A memorial tree and plaque, pictured above, stand in Section 46 of the cemetery. Below are the names and gravesite locations of Tuskegee Airmen interred at Arlington:

Source: Arlington National Cemetery