By the spring of 1941, Chanute Field was “home” to thousands of draftees and enlisted men. On March 22, the 99th Pursuit Squadron was activated at Chanute. The unit would consist of African-American men training to support America’s first black military pilots – who would not start their own training at Tuskegee until July.
A white officer, Captain Harold R. Maddux, was selected to command the 99th. In the picture below, he is on the far left. Continuing L to R: Dr. Fred L. Patterson, President of the Tuskegee Institute; Col. Raymond E. O’Neil, Chanute’s CO; George L. Washington, Director of the Aeronautics Division of the Tuskegee Institute and Brig. Gen. Rush L. Lincoln. The men are standing in front of Building T-39, the mess hall used by the 99th. The occasion was a visit of Tuskegee Institute officials to Chanute Field.
|Radial Engine training|
|Anthony Jones learned all about sheet metal|
One of the first large photos you see in the room is of the men of the 99th at Chanute, eager to learn and ready to fight for freedom.
That is counterbalanced by another large photo as you prepare to exit that touches on the cost of war to the men of the 99th, indeed to all the men of the segregated 332nd Fighter Group.
Next week: Part III – the rest of the museum
The Traveling Exhibit and Mustang are in Fort Wayne for an air show sponsored by the local Air National Guard unit that starts tonight.
Countdown to the election: 67 days