IMG_3496In 2010, the Commemorative Air Force established the CAF Hall of Fame to honor members who have made monumental contributions towards the success and worldwide impact of the organization. On March 4, 2017, the late CAF Red Tail Squadron founding member Don Hinz, retired Navy commander, was inducted into the CAF Hall of Fame for his outstanding efforts to honor the history and legacy of the Tuskegee Airmen through his volunteer service with the CAF.

Tragically, Don passed away in 2004 from injuries sustained in an engine malfunction in the P-51C Mustang Tuskegee Airmen, but his vision to bring the lessons of these important American heroes into every classroom in the country continues to fuel the work of the CAF Red Tail Squadron. The addition of the RISE ABOVE Traveling Exhibit to the CAF Red Tail Squadron was a direct result of that vision.

At the induction ceremony, CAF Red Tail Squadron P-51C Mustang pilot and founding member Doug Rozendaal presented the award to Don’s son, USMC officer and pilot Ben Hinz, who accepted it on behalf of the entire Hinz family.

Ben Hinz 2017Hinz noted that his father would not have accepted the award solely for himself. “He would point to the men and women who, 75 years ago, stood on the grounds of the Tuskegee Institute and fought for the opportunity to defend their country in the skies above Europe. That’s where the honor really lies. And if I think about how we honor their story and their tradition, along with my dad, I think the answer is quite simple. We fulfill my dad’s vision to put the story into every classroom in America of courage in the face of adversity as embodied by the Tuskegee Airmen. Thank you to the CAF for continuing to fulfill his vision and honoring his memory tonight.”

Don’s respect and reverence for the experience of the Tuskegee Airmen brought a vintage warbird back to the skies to inspire an entire generation to RISE ABOVE, and not just wow the audience at air shows. He saw restoring the P-51C Mustang as a tool to engage and ignite conversations with people of all ages that would help bring about an appreciation for the sacrifices made by the Tuskegee Airmen to serve their country while fighting for their own equality.

Don Hinz, CAF Red Tail Squadron visionary and founding member

Don Hinz, CAF Red Tail Squadron visionary and founding member

CAF’s tribute to Hinz from the 2017 CAF Hall of Fame induction ceremony includes an interview he gave in the early days of the project. He said, “This aircraft is going to represent the contributions and sacrifices of African Americans in World War II. It will travel the country – maybe even the world – telling their story, celebrating their history and educating youth about their ability to follow their dreams, overcome obstacles and find their success.”

Hinz left an indelible mark not only on the CAF Red Tail Squadron, but also on the entire Commemorative Air Force. “Don brought education to the forefront,” said Rozendaal.

CAF Red Tail Squadron pilots Brad Lang, Doug Rozendaal, Alan Miller, Paul Stojkov and Bill Shepard with the Hinz family.

CAF Red Tail Squadron pilots Brad Lang, Doug Rozendaal, Alan Miller, Paul Stojkov and Bill Shepard with the Hinz family.

“He knew this was not about an airplane; it was a tool we needed to tell the story of the Tuskegee Airmen. He was a great leader and an incredible guy. He made me a better man. Don Hinz made this a better organization.”

The CAF Red Tail Squadron extends hearty congratulations to the Hinz family. Join us as we continue to honor his vision to inspire and educate people everywhere through the remarkable story of the Tuskegee Airmen.

 

The CAF Red Tail Squadron is a volunteer-driven organization dedicated to educating audiences across the country about the history and legacy of the Tuskegee Airmen, America’s first black military pilots and their support personnel. Learn more at www.redtail.org.

Share:

More Posts

Douglas Bembry

Douglas Bembry January 3, 1924- January 5, 2017 Douglas Bembry from Indianapolis was a member of this revered group. Bembry died in 2017 at the age of 92, but we wanted to share his story

Read More »

Quentin P. Smith

Quentin P. Smith 1919 – January 15, 2013 Class: 45-A-TE Graduation Date: 3/11/1945 Unit: 477th Bombardier Group Service # 0841274   They flew 1,578 missions in the European and Mediterranean theaters of operations and 15,533

Read More »

James Shipley

James Lloyd Shipley June 28, 1923 – July 21 2022 SO 338 20 Dec 43 Selfridge Unit: Mechanic with the 332nd fighter group He was proud to say that all of the pilots of the planes he

Read More »

Charles W. Tate

Charles W. Tate October 18, 1922 – November 18, 2005 Class: 43-H-SE Graduation Date: 8/30/1943 Unit: 99th Fighter Squadron of the 332nd Fighter Group Service # 0811290 Charles Tate was from Manchester, PA and graduated

Read More »

Send Us A Message