Tuskegee Airman visits EHS

From Staff Reports

   A member of the fabled "Tuskegee Airmen" spoke to students at Elizabethton High School on Thursday morning as part of a local foundation's efforts to present history.
   Lt. Dempsey Morgan Jr. was a West Point Cadet and Tuskegee Airman who flew 181 missions including the Balkan, Italian and French allies campaign. He received numerous awards, including the Distinguished Flying Cross, the Bronze Star for Air Offensive in Europe and Italy, four Oak Leaf Clusters and a Certificate of Valor.
   "Tuskegee Airmen" is the term used to describe African American Fighter Pilots of the 99th Pursuit Squadron, later incorporated into the 332nd Fighter Group. The combat achievements of the 332nd Fighter Group, known as the Tuskegee Airmen, is an example of men overcoming prejudice and discrimination in the 1940s to make an elite mark in American and Military History.
   Morgan's appearance was sponsored by the Cedar Grove Foundation's "Let's Celebrate History Program."
   On July 19, 1941, the AAF began a program in Alabama to train black Americans as military pilots. Primary flight training was conducted by the Division of Aeronautics of Tuskegee Institute, the famed school of learning founded by Booker T. Washington in 1881. Once a cadet completed primary training at Tuskegee's Moton Field, he was sent to nearby Tuskegee Army Air Field for completion of flight training and for transition to combat type aircraft.
   The first classes of Tuskegee airmen were trained to be fighter pilots for the famous 99th Fighter Squadron, slated for combat duty in North Africa. Additional pilots were assigned to the 332nd Fighter Group which flew combat along with the 99th Squadron from bases in Italy.
   In Sept. 1943, a twin-engine training program was begun at Tuskegee to provide bomber pilots. However, World War II ended before these pilots were able to get into combat.