Dates: September 11 – 15, 2013
Event: Chanute Air Museum
Location: Rantoul, Illinois
Attendance: Estimated at over 2,000 spectators

Students show off their dog tags in the theatre.

Students show off their dog tags in the theatre.

The Chanute Air Museum opened their doors with a message of inspiration, as the CAF Red Tail Squadron came to their community. The RISE ABOVE Traveling Exhibit was on display along with the beautiful P-51C Mustang, a P-40 and a T-6. The museum was ready to show off their exhibits and a unique collection of aircraft.

The 99th Pursuit Squadron is an important part of their history. In early 1941 the U.S. War Department authorized the formation of several black Army Air Corps squadrons. On March 19, 1941, the 99th Pursuit Squadron was activated at Chanute Field. Over 250 enlisted men were trained at Chanute in aircraft ground support trades. This small number of enlisted men was to become the core of other black squadrons forming at Tuskegee and Maxwell Fields in Alabama – the famed Tuskegee Airmen.

The museum along with the CAF Red Tail Squadron staff was kept very busy as the school children and visitors came steadily each day. Bill Foraker, Doug Rozendaal and Mark Hanson were on hand each day to educate the students on the history of the Mustang and the P-40. They answered questions about the aircraft and the Tuskegee Airmen.

L-R: Mark Hanson (Curator, Chanute Air Museum), O. Lawton Wilkerson (Original Tuskegee Airman, B-25 pilot, Chicago DoDo Chapter TAI),Ken Rapier (President, Chicago DoDo Chapter TAI),Victor Croswell (Board of Directors, Chicago DoDo Chapter TAI),Moses Jones (Chicago DoDo Chapter TAI),Doug Rozendaal CAF Red Tail Squadron pilot)

L-R: Mark Hanson, Curator, Chanute Air Museum; O. Lawton Wilkerson ,Original Tuskegee Airman, B-25 pilot, Chicago DoDo Chapter TAI; Ken Rapier, President, Chicago DoDo Chapter TAI; Victor Croswell, Board of Directors, Chicago DoDo Chapter TAI; Moses Jones, Chicago DoDo Chapter TAI; Doug Rozendaal, CAF Red Tail Squadron pilot

There were numerous interviews conducted before the event and during the week. Various media outlets include radio, newspapers and several television stations all helped invite the public to come and learn more about the Tuskegee Airmen and their story.

The weather on Saturday was perfect – the museum had a record attendance. Special guests include John Sachtleben, a WWII Bomber crew member – who flew missions with the Red Tails – He just wanted to come out and see the Red Tail Mustang up close. Doug Rozendaal flew over the Cancer Walk on Saturday evening to show support for those participating in the walk. Several rides were sold including a wife who surprised her husband with the once-in-a-lifetime ride in the P-51C Mustang. All commented it was the best experience in their life!

On Sunday, members of the Chicago “DoDo” Chapter of TAI attended and the guests were honored by the presence of an Original Tuskegee Airman, O. Lawton Wilkerson. “Wilk” served with the B-25 Bomber Crew in World War II. The guests enjoyed meeting the chapter members and in talking with an Original Tuskegee Airman.

Educational Outreach: Almost 1500 students were invited to attend on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. The Rantoul Schools were able to attend for free, and the schools from other locations were offered a special rate for admission to the museum. Those schools include Lincoln’s Challenge, Fisher Elementary, Northview Elementary, St. Malachy School, Edison Middle School, Adellas Home School Group, Broadmeadow, Eater Middle School, Booker T. Washington, and Thomasboro Grade School. They loved their RISE ABOVE Experience and their inspirational dog tags.

To see photos of this and other events please visit our Facebook album!

©CAF Red Tail Squadron 2013


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