Troy officials to mark Tuskegee Airmen hangar Wednesday

Published 3:00 am Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Troy officials will wrap up Black History Month Wednesday with the unveiling of a historical marker recognizing a hangar once used by the Tuskegee Airmen that now rests at Troy Municipal Airport.

“Dr. (Jack) Hawkins (Troy University chancellor) and I were at a presentation one day and a historian I know was seated at the table with us and we started talking and he asked if I knew the hangar at the Troy airport was originally at the Tuskegee Army Air Field,” Said Maj. Gen. Walter Givham, senior vice chancellor for economic development at Troy University.  “I did not know it, but they didn’t need all the hangars after the war was over, so they disassembled three hangars and moved them other places.”

The Tuskegee Airmen were the first African-American pilots in history and became famous for their missions as well as their red-tailed airplanes.

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“In World War II there was an initiative to train African American pilots, although they were still a segregated unit at that time,” Givhan said. “These men trained and then fought valiantly and flew many different aircraft, primarily the P51 Mustang, which you’ll see on display. They’re known as the red tails … Their sterling combat record distinguished themselves and paved the way for the complete integration of the armed forces after World War II.”

City officials will gather for a ceremony from 2 p.m. to 3 p.m. Wednesday at the municipal airport to unveil the historical marker.

Givhan said the Tuskegee Airmen also have more significance to Troy in particular.

“It is particularly appropriate for Troy, because when training, you fly to other designated fields. Troy’s air fields was one of the fields designated for practice of the Tuskegee Airmen,” Givhan said. “What a great thing to have a hangar used by those airmen. The connection has always been there but only a few people knew about it. It’s something we hope will inspire people who see it and they will come there to learn more about the Tuskegee Airmen. They’re heroes of mine not just because they were pilots, but because they distinguished themselves fighting prejudice at the same time a lot of people doubted that this would work. A lot of people were bigoted and prejudiced and thought that they would fail and not live up to the task. I’m very proud we can celebrate that legacy in Alabama, especially at Troy.”

The program will feature remarks from city officials as well as the daughter of a Tuskegee Airman and Troy University Trustee Ed Crowell, a retired African-American Brigadier General, on the influence of the airmen.

The Troy Municipal Airport is located at 301 Campbell Road.