tv Tuskegee Airmen 75th Anniversary CSPAN November 21, 2018 8:01pm-9:10pm EST
fighter groups, six were part of an event working the 75th anniversary of their deployment in 1943. they talked about some of the most dangerous missions and one of them -- and what it was like to serve in a segregated military. this is american history tv on c-span 3. >> it's with great pleasure i introduce our panel of american icons, the tuskegee airmen. on the panel mister ron jackson, a third-generation military man currently a tour guide in the u.s. capital. formerly a proud paratrooper in the 87 airborne division. i am from north carolina so i'm exceptionally proud of the 82nd and their actions over at fort bragg. we like to tell people
that we have the most military friendly state in the nation and we have worked hard to live up to that. so without further ado, mr. jackson you are on. thank you very much. >> thank you and good morning. welcome to the theater, we are here to salute american icons, the tuskegee airmen. please allow me to briefly introduce our panel. and then we will come back and hear from our panelists and asks for questions. i may recite the question a time or two for clarity. let's begin with the person closest to me. in the blue, the colonel robert. next we begin with chief colonel harold brown lieutenant colonel george harding, lieutenant colonel alexander
jefferson, lieutenant colonel james h harvey the third and our closer, lieutenant colonel harry stewart. let's begin first with lieutenant colonel robert born in claudia south carolina. he fought in world war i. what we will do is colonel, we will yield the floor to you and the human -- and then we will ask friends in the audience so let's have a round of applause for our first panelist. >> so let's give a free -- a brief history about you. >> i was always interested in flying and when the chance came to me for instance i had a
pilots license in the late 30s because i was part of a program in the united states, and that was to train people to fly airplanes as they were doing in europe. and so, when the team asked for us to go to tuskegee i was more than prepared and i enjoyed it very much. the one thing i would like to clarify for my personal standpoint, everybody says tuskegee is a place where they trained the african-americans,
that is the wrong way, i think to look at it. the right way to look at this is that was the place where they trained people who were not white, you could be anything else and so, i went through the program. i went through three wars. i'm very fortunate to be able to be here to speak to you and to let you know how we felt. thank you. [ applause ] >> would anyone like to ask a question to the colonel, if so please stand. i would like to make note given the biography that you see on the screen, if i may, a veteran of 142 combat missions for the tuskegee airmen, the first african-american general in the
air force, yesterday was the anniversary of benjamin davis senior. october 20, 1940. there's very few of us in this audience that remember 1940, yet, this panel does. all right, so let's introduce lieutenant colonel harold brown from minneapolis minnesota whose father also fought in world war i. colonel brown, would you give us just a brief history and summary of your experience in the military place? >> certainly. i was born and raised in minneapolis minnesota and when i was about in the sixth grade, 11 years old, i woke up one morning, and guess what? i was going to become a military fighter pilot, well at
the mention of that, my mother who looked at me, isn't it strange how your mother could look at you and say, he has all this wonderful talent? yet i had no talent whatsoever. [ laughter ] >> so i set on that for the first 10 years of my life for so. and then in the sixth grade, 11 years old i decided i was going to become a military pilot. don't ask me why i don't remember how, i don't remember seeing a movie of its but just one warming -- i don't remember seeing a movie of but just one morning i woke up and i was set. i remember one book in particular west point of the air. i read that book so many times i almost had it memorized. so, when i was 16 years old say
that $35 -- so when i was 16 years old i managed to save up $35 and i wanted to take flying lessons. i got $5 and a little cup. as young as you guys are, you don't cj three slides very often -- you don't cj-3 slides very often -- in 1941 we know that the war started but keep in mind, back in those days after president roosevelt decided to train us in march 1941, the clearest -- the first class started in 1941 they wanted
people to have some college experience. it did not take long before they had just about wiped out all of the guys of the college experience, what about you guys in high school? you could pass the physical and medical exams and we could take you in. so at 17 years of age i graduated from high school and i went down to the local recruitment station and said, i wanted to sign up. great, sign on the dotted line. get set for the exam, i scored reasonably high and i said hey, i'm on my way. they said, no-no not yet. everyone else and i'm the only guy here, they were hundreds of other guys they were sworn to the reserves and they were obviously protected from the draft but my paperwork had to go to washington dc so i sat there sweating after i turned
18, the draft was going to get me before i got my chance to go fly, fortunately in december i was selected and i family -- and i finally wound up in the military graduating the class of 1944. 19 years old, i said good morning to the airplane. do you know why they send the young guys off to fight wars? how the old generals kind of sat there and picked you young guys to go out and pick the war ? you know why you do that? you guys are invincible aren't you? you guys live forever. guess what, one day, you too will also sweat it out. i don't want to take up too much time, so, the thing --
does anyone have any questions? come on, you guys, you've got 10,000 questions. so give me one. >> colonel brown the gentle into the left. [ laughter ] >> what? >> the dome and left. >> what is it. >> serum from west point -- sir i am from west point what did you think when you were in a enemy territory? >> i wished i had a pair of wings but that was not always the case. one of the biggest hazards of flying missions, if you were ever hit you were always briefed out of the target area and rightly so. there were a bunch of people down there, shrapnel, things
flying all over the place so all of a sudden you get hit can you imagine what those guys are thinking about aft your you just about wiped out some guys brother or some guys wife and here you come floating down in a parachute? those are some very angry people. and rightly so. and to follow that up a little bit, two more minutes is all i will take. [ laughter ] >> i was shot down on my 30th mission. alexander is giving me a rough time down here. i was shot down on my 30th mission and one of the
unfortunate things, i didn't get out of the target area, i was picked up almost immediately and brought back to a little village and i was met by 35 of the most angry people you have ever seen in your life. and, there was no doubt they had murder on their mind and they made certain i knew what they were going to do. now, here i was 20 years old, looking like this, no business being in germany and i had a mob of 35 or so people looking at me and they wanted a piece of me, fortunately there was a good person in the crowd who came up and prevented them from taking my life. but for a short while, those first 35 minutes or so, i was frightened to death. there wasn't a doubt in my mind i was going to die i couldn't run and i couldn't hide, i couldn't do anything. as a matter of fact, i think i
was talking to myself for a while. harold, what are you going to do? i don't know what i'm going to do, will think of something harold, you're not just going to sit around and let them kill you. but that was the most frightening thing that had ever happened to me. i looked death straight in the eye and at 20 years old i had a lot of living to do but from that point on, pow, that was a safe haven really. i will cut it off there, i could tell you 10,000 stories but i think that you get the picture. thank you. [ applause ] >> for those of you that did not hear the exchange when colonel brown said he was shot down in his third mission
colonel jefferson said welcome to the club. [ laughter ] >> i would like to hear a lecture from colonel brown sometime. our next panelist, lieutenant colonel george hardy from philadelphia. i don't know if he is a fan of the eagles are not. >> i was born and raised in philadelphia and graduated from high school in 1942. in march 1943 i took the entrance exam and they sent me a -- they sent me home until i turned 18 and i went into service in july 1943. i graduated in september 1944 and after additional training i went overseas, the 99th fighter squadron. 18 years old i had my rolls-royce but i came back after the war and i got out in
1946 and went to nyu and was recalled in 1948 when racial immigration started, at least the air force performed in september 1947, the air force said they would innovate racially and truman signed the executive order in july. i went back in, in 1949 when i graduated, racial immigration had taken place in the air force and i was assigned to the 19th, b-29 outfitters as a officer and i flied as a copilot. when the korean war started we went to korea, the first mission on 30 june 1950 we were in war. there were racial problems in
those days and in march of -- in may 1950 the squadron commander, would not speak to me except in the line of duty because he did not believe in racial integration and when we were in okinawa, 12 july 7 combat mission he pulled me off the airplane at the last minute and replace me because he did not want me flying in his outfit, that was the first one shot down over north korea, he was in it and i did not go down with them. but anyway, i survived that and ended up flying with a new squadron commander. the new commander put me back on flying status so i flied 45 missions over korea. i came back to the states and had a good time at different bases. and i say i grew up in
the service, because with technology, i got a bs in electrical engineering and then i went to japan and had a good tour as a maintenance supervisor on a electric maintenance squadron, from there i went to new york. my wing commander was the same officer who pulled me off of the airplane in okinawa, he was now my wing commander. i was with him for two years, three years up there. it was the best three years of my career under him for the second time. i loved working for him the second time and i love to see people change and whatnot. i would have stayed with him forever but, this was technology, there was a level program that they wanted to put
into effect right away. they didn't have time to advertise for it so they went back to graduates and my name came up and they offered me the chance to go. i went in february 1963 for 19 months and ended up with a masters in systems engineering. reliability was a new field they came up with and i had a masters degree in that. so i grew up in the service and from there i got a job at the air force base in procurement and whatnot. and i made lieutenant colonel up there and for three and half years i was chief of engineering in the overseas audubon program. the direct telephone system. three and half years, i was chief of engineering and a program manager for that, coming over in june coming over in june 1969. i had been up there for five
and half years. they prepared a new gunship, 119-k and made a gunship to carrier airplanes, carrying 42 paratroopers and they made a gunship out of it in vietnam. i had hundreds of hours in the 119. i was called to active duty as a pilot ended up going to vietnam in 1970 as a lieutenant colonel, our squadron, all the airplanes were at these other locations. we went to thailand and i trained with the crew and when i went overseas they took the crew away from me and then i was a commander. i ended up flying 70 combat missions in vietnam in a gunship
then i came back and retired in 1971. anyway, i say that i grew up and i was educated in the service. someone was looking out over me. i never had to go out of an airplane. as i say, i was in someone's good graces and i thank god for that. anyway that's the sum total of my career but the thing is, when i retired, with my degrees they made me a job offer, i worked for them for 18 years so, i say, i had the best of everything as far as the service and i am grateful for that. >> do you have questions for colonel hardy someone stand and we will bring the microphone to you. all the way up. just a second colonel hardy. just a minute. >> the day gentlemen i'm the
assistant director at florida a&m university and i have a question for you all, in your age, how do you stay so sharp and so witty? >> what was that question again? will have for -- what was that question again? [ laughter ] >> how do you stay so sharp and witty, that's really the entire panel i believe. >> well, you know, i'm 93 and so i know how hard it is to get around with things like that, age catches up to everyone. >> slowly but surely. what? >> slowly but surely. >> i have one for the colonel, if we could be reflective for a moment from world war ii to korea to the cuban missile crisis to vietnam, your
experiences leading up to vietnam, how did this help you serve? >> the thing is when i look back on vietnam i was able to adapt to everything but the thing is, when i look at the totality of my career, world war ii, they never had anyone of african ancestry but then at the end of my career in vietnam, i was the commander and all of my pilots were white so it shows that evolution of how things went in the service and i still meet with those guys and we still have a reunion. i was 45 then and they were at least 20 years younger than me but i get along with them very well. >> thank you. yes absolutely. well done. [ applause ] >> our fourth panelist is
alexander jefferson. his favorite place to vacation is in hawaii, so hopefully he will tell us what he likes to do in hawaii. colonel jefferson let's give the floor to usurp. let's tell -- so please tell us a little bit about yourself in the armed forces. >> someone often asked why did you go into the army? i remover now, 1941, world war ii was kicking off. i graduated from park college in june from park college in june 1942. the draft was biting my ear, the first thing i did was come down from detroit to the federal building and join. i thought they would send me to tuskegee because we were segregated so they said no go home and we
will call you. they put me on a list and it took me almost 9 months before they called me. now i remember now, i was a college graduate and i was in the last class going to tuskegee, of a college full of graduates because the army, navy, marines, the classes after me, three months of college training detachment. i graduated in january 1944. from tuskegee as a second lieutenant, we were sent to selfridge air force base to fly the p-39 because of the three squadrons the 301st, the 302nd,
and the 99th. these squadrons were flying p- 39's up and down the shores outside of italy and my class we were supposed to be replacements for them. and we were trained in p-39's at selfridge air force base until something like, the march 1944, 45 or 44, a two star general from selfridge i was out over lake huron. all officers report to the post on the double. so stop everything you're doing and get your behind to the theater. we were there, black and white officers and no one was sure what was going on and suddenly,
someone said, attention. and we hopped to and down the aisle strolled a two star general. what the hell's going on? i don't know. he rambled on and on for about 4-10 minutes and these are the words i remember. " gentlemen, this is my airfield, as long as i am in command there will be no socialization between white and colored officers." we had been trying to get into the officers club and he said no. that was thursday, saturday morning, they put us on a train and three days later we ended up in south carolina. we were the
first class to be shipped over to join the 332nd pilot group. i was put into the 301st fighter squadron and i flew 18 and i flew 18 1/2 missions. [ laughter ] >> my first emissions were escorting p-51's. i was cutting it short. they were escorting them from italy to france i went into-3 times. the 19th mission was a straight mission, we came in straight the first time, and i was in
the 301st out of the 16 airplanes, red, white, yellow, blue. i think, i can't remember but anyway, i was blue. i was over here. southern france, radar stations, we did not know the invasion of southern france came off on august 15. our job was to knock out the radar stations which controlled the guns, firing out to see. first flight, second flight, third flight. the fourth flight. and on the fourth flight, who was the last guy to go across the target? me.
looking up ahead, you see everything coming back at you. i went right across the top of the target and something said boom and i said, what the is going on? fire came up out of the floor. so i had to bail out. so here we are, 400 miles per hour we pushed everything's to the walls -- we pushed everything to the walls. and i said to myself. remember now, out of 10 or nine months of training, not one minute on how to bail out. [ laughter ] you just rise to the occasion. [ laughter ] we had to get some altitude and as you go up, you're on the left side and
there's a little wheel that you rotate and you turn the nose down and if you turn this stick loose and the nose go down. i don't know how i got up all i know is that it got pretty warm and i had to get out. so imagine going up you reach up and you pull the red knob and the canopy goes off and, you get up so high, i don't know how high, but it got kind of warm so i said, it's time to go. i turned the stick loose. when you do, what happens to the nose? boom, abruptly. and as it did, as the tail dropped, you have these straps here with a big buckle and if you at the buckle the straps
come loose, i came out and i remember, the tail going by with all of that fire. and somebody said, when you bail out you go abc, but i looked down at the trees and it was to close. [ laughter ] >> you reach out and pull it really fast and when it hits, boom, i'm in the trees. then all of a sudden i'm trying to get out and i hear this voice, and i said oh expletive. realistically? german guard, he looked up and i was in the trees and he was helping me get out and he looks up and sees a little gold bar and he swings me -- and he salutes me and all i could do
was return the salute. i was introduced, i became a pow , 1944. by the time when harold came in, during the war there were 32 men out of the 332nd fighter group who are pows. 32 of us and i won't go through the ones who died but, we spent the rest of the war at stall log 3 -- we spent the rest of the war at that point. and i came back and became a school teacher for 35 years. lo and behold i quit. [ laughter ]
>> to tell you, i quit. that's it. thank you. >> thank you colonel jefferson [ applause ] >> i'm just curious, 30 years you touch -- 30 years he taught what subject did you teach? >> science. >> just wait on the microphone as it comes towards you. >> my question for the entire panel, how did you overcome racism and discrimination and what lessons would you share about that? >> what the did he say? [ laughter ] >> by the way you are talking to guys up here, everyone of us has bad hearing. think about our ages. >> how did you overcome racial
discrimination while you are serving -- were serving? >> how did we do what? >> subsequent to that -- >> everybody stupid except you and me [ laughter ] >> i would like to make a comment on that. >> and sometimes i'm not so sure about you. >> i would like to make a comment about that. after racial integration took place in 1949, all of us were shipped out to other outfits and a lot of people ran into problems individually, that you never thought you'd run into, discrimination problems and it hurt some of the fellows careerwise but this was a fact of life because there were many people once who did not agree
with racial integration and a few -- and if you served with someone like that you may have paid a price, but gradually the service has worked. i think we came out on top. >> it's still going on today. >> let's bring our fifth panelist in. lieutenant colonel james h harvey the third from montclair new jersey. let's hear your story. what brought you into the military's are? >> okay, in january 1943, i try to enlist in the army air force, they told me they weren't taking enlistments at that time, that was the height of the war. and i got the picture, they didn't want me. so they drafted me into the army in april 1943. i got to train
and went to fort meade maryland and went to washington dc, we had a hour layover and i got off of the train, i went to a restaurant, i got something to eat and went back to get on the train and said no way, you are in that car back there. welcome to the south. they put me in the car, it was the last car. and that was my introduction to segregation. backup now, i was born in montclair new jersey in july in montclair new jersey in july 1923, i left new jersey and went to pennsylvania in 1936, my dad was there working at the hazard wire rope works then we moved to a small town near
mountaintop pennsylvania which is near hazleton, between wilkes-barre and hazleton. i went to a school, a two room school house in the seventh and eighth grades and then when i went to high school we had to take the bus and i was in mountaintop pennsylvania. when we moved out there, we were the only family of color out there so i did not run into any segregation whatsoever, i was treated like any other person, so segregation did not enter my mind. no problems. i went to high school, mountaintop pennsylvania. we -- the only sports we had was basketball and a tumbling team and i was the anchorman in
the tumbling team and captain of the basketball team. then in my senior year, another young lady of color came in so now there were two of us in the school during my senior year, my senior year i was class president and valedictorian. i did not know anything about segregation like i said, until i got into the military. and in my senior year, i was in my front yard, we were out in the country, we lived in the country, no city at all. it was our house away from the house if you know what i mean. i was standing in my yard and i sought this flight of be-40s flyover information and i said to myself, i would like to do that one day so i went to maryland, i got a uniform and my shots and i checked in and they sent to -- they sent me to jefferson missouri for 30 days
of basic training and i finished my basic training and based on my scores and written tests i had taken in fort meade maryland, they put me in the army air corps of engineers driving bulldozers, craters carryall's and the mission was to go to the pacific, build a airfield for the aircraft's and we used to go out and practice every day. and i said, no, this isn't for me. so i applied for cadet training there were 10 of us that applied and went to take the exams, nine whites and myself, two of us past and from there i went to the field in biloxi mississippi for 30 more days of training i finish that and i went to tuskegee -- days of training.
i finished that and i went to tuskegee. so washing out or failing did not enter my mind because i knew i could do anything they wanted me to do and that took me only through flying school and as i said, i had no problems at all in flying school. i remember one day, i was practicing, i maneuver, a 8 on a 45degree angle between 2000- 1000 feet you could take any altitude you want but ours was between 1000-2000 feet and i was out practicing. when i came to the top, i was approaching 2000 feet, mighty fast. i found myself upside down, the altimeter said 2000 feet. but i still have to practiced
because the instructor did not want any of that stuff, everything we did at tuskegee had to be perfect so we learn to fly any aircraft. the white pilots, i think all they had to do was demonstrate they could get the aircraft off of the ground and back onto the ground safely. our program, a fine training program was designed for our failure, they knew they would not be anyone graduating into the 99th fighter squadron without a doubt but we told them otherwise. i graduated from flying school in october, october 16, 1944. and from there, i went to a liberal south carolina for combat training and i finished my comeback training in 1945 and had my bags packed.
catching a train out of nor folk, catching a ship to join the group in europe. we got a message saying to hold us and as i said, before i was ready to go but we got this message saying to hold us so i did not go in april 1945. in the month of may in the month of may 1945, i would have been on the high seas. and, in may 1949, we had the first ever top gun women's -- the first ever top gun weapons meet. the following month of june they started full integration in the military they declared they would integrate the military in 1948 but nothing really happened
until they broke our group up in june and scattered us all over the world. any -- i had an assignment to japan. before we left, our records had been flown into japan. the group commander knew who was coming, i should say the wing commander. he called all of the pilots before we got there and said we had these two pilots coming in and they will be assigned to one of the squadrons. the pilots told us this and said, no way will we fly with them, no way. so anyway, eddie and i reported to the wing commander and we were in the office talking and said, what do you want us to call you?
this is a military organization so what you want us to call you? i said i'm a first lieutenant he is a second lieutenant, how about lou -- have a lieutenant. but then he made his mistake he said, we have three fighter squadrons on the base, to p-51 squadrons and a f-80 squadron, that's a jet. which one do you want to go to? that's a no-brainer, i said, the f-80. so they put us both in the f-80 squadron. a t-33, they had a few fixes which was what we flew in advance. we get in the backseat, you pull the hood up and you can't see out. so eddie and i, we had two flights in the backseat and one thing they did do, i got in the
backseat, the pilot upfront gave us instructions to take off and in the meantime i had the hood up before we taxied out and all i could see where my instruments. the pilot upfront lines up on the runway and says, you've got it. so take off, close the gear clasp next to the control, all accessed -- all access. and i flew around doing the maneuvers he wanted me to do. then it was time to land and i called ground control approach and they instructed me in for a landing and i touched down and the pilot flight took over. i had to flights like that. what does that have to do with flying the f-80? nothing, i finally figured out why they had us do that, they wanted to see if we could fly and we proved that we could. i knew that, but they had
doubts. but we show them, yes we could fly like anyone else. then i went to japan and i came back to the states and went to victorville california -- well korea started and i was in japan. we immediately started flying missions, the next day after the invasion and i flew 126 missions in the f-80 and then rotated back to japan and i started flying the day after the invasion started and i had 126 missions by december, by christmas day, december 25. in the meantime, the wing commander had been asking and air force command for a cutoff in the number of missions. finally as it came down 100 missions so i did not have to fly anymore, rotated back to
japan that was in december 1950, i came back to the states in april 1951 and went to george air force base in victorville california and from there, i was a assistant operations officer instrument instructor pilot, and test pilot. i have to say i did not have any problems during my whole career in the military as far as being a minority, none whatsoever, even the guys that were in the squadron in japan, the ones that said they would not fly with us, they found out that we were good, we were very good. we were better than they were. and the reason we were so good as a group, because of our training. anything they did, the instructor did, trying to wash
us out, it just made us better pilots. like i said, everything had to be perfect. we were good, we were the best. the new overseas we were the best and we came back to the states and had the weapons made in 1949, we won that and we were the best there. so i like to use the word best. i don't know if you notice that. >> what year did you retire sarah? >> i retired in madison wisconsin and made it -- what year did you retire sir? >> i retired in madison wisconsin.
learning the operation from slaughter to finished product, we needed a salesman so he went there and we went to detroit i was there for 18 months in philadelphia as an assistant sales manager and i was there for three years. then i got a promotion to denver as a center manager and i was a center manager from 1973 until february 1980 . >> to be have any questions?
give the microphone just a second . >> >> don't you love the detail of 1944? >> what was it like coming back to areas of the country where there was still segregation? >> what was it like in areas where there was still segregation? it didn't bother me at all, they had their problem and i ignored their problem but i didn't let it bother me.
nothing in life bothers me i just go with the flow . >> okay, harry stewart from newport news, he could build a ship or fly a plane, so he flew a plane . >> i'm looking at your watch finding out how much time i have . >>, i won't take more than a half an hour. [ laughter ] anyway, i will preempt some of the questions asked of me, maybe two questions. and that question would have to do with what were the greatest things that happened to me when i was in the service? i would say the second greatest thing was 75 years ago and this
was quite an event, it was the last combat pilots there are 13 of us left and we still tried to keep in contact with one another but right on the stage, you see the remainder of the portion of that but anyway, getting back to the question, what were the greatest things that happened to me in the service? that was one of them, the second greatest thing and i like to say that these gentlemen, colonel friend on the end, the first panelist, he was born in columbia south carolina and raised in manhattan and, you introduced me as being born in newport news virginia. i was raised in the borough of queens new york. so, we were a distance apart of
-- over the east river. he was an operations officer in the first squadron. when i went over there he had already gotten about 100 missions under his belt on his second tour. but the war ended in may 1945 and all of us got on the boat together and came back from italy and landed on staten island and colonel friend that he went home with his family in manhattan and i took the subway and went home to my family in queens. i guess i was home for about two days and i got a call from colonel friend and he said , i'd like you to come over and meet my family in manhattan.
so, i went over and met his family but little did i know this would end up in a 68 year marriage to his sister. [ applause ] so i called him cupid because he did the same thing with another one of his sisters. he introduced them and they were married. so a question i got from somebody when i mentioned the story before is, how many times did cupid do this again and he said nine and he said wife, he said i ran out of sisters. [ laughter ] but, that was the greatest thing to happen to me while i was in the service there . >> there's one other thing. you shut down three airplanes and one mission. you didn't
mention that, three airplanes . >> i'll make sure they heard that. [ laughter ] >> for those who might be streaming you can see, we have a question or two, let's start, for the gentleman in black, in that direction, then will come back to the middle. one or two questions . >> my name is ray simon and i'm an artist but one question i wanted ask you, do you ever look at yourself as the civil rights movement yet to come? in all reality, as history proceeded you guys were the trailblazers, you almost laid the path for ruby bridges, rosa parks and dr. martin luther king jr. what i find interesting is the march 24, 1945 mission, 20 years and one
day which was 1965, where dr. martin luther king walked across the bridge, my question is have you ever looked at yourself as a civil rights movement yet to come, you didn't protest, you didn't march, what you did was good and became some of the best pilots in the country . >> i've been asked that question a number of times, and while we were going through training, i think the panelists , i don't think we dreamed at that time we were making an impact on the future of what was happening and that type of thing, we thought we were doing our job as citizens of the united states, and performing as soldiers in the military.
it wasn't until in the late 1970s, even more recent, when true film came out, one was called -- with worldwide distribution and picked up by hbo and the second was the red tails which was a lupus film put out by george lupus. anyway, they got worldwide distribution and around that time all sorts came in as far as we like to hear from you guys, give us a rundown on the history of the organization and that type of thing, so, they would answer the question again, no, we didn't realize how much impact we would make on integration while we were in the service but , it became readily apparent after we came out of the service .
>> i was satisfying something inside of me. i caught all kinds of but let's face it, that's what was going on, as a black person in this country. i came out after the war, put all my stuff together, red tail capture, and i wrote this book and it was highly except did, but there was something on the inside of me and, teaching school, i felt that somewhere young black men needed to learn how to fight the system. the system is
vicious and, unless you know how to cope with the vicious system, you've got nothing and when i taught school, we had things called safety patrol, remember? a little kid had a white belt and a responsibility of patrolling or covering the corner. so, in order to be a safety, you had to be a nerd. [ laughter ] >> that's number one, and for a black teenager, a black kid telling him at that time to be a nerd, it was a no-no. ostracization. you had to be on time. colonel davis demanded us to be on time and colonel davis said
be in my office at 0900, you don't show up at 9 am, what time do you show up? >> 8:45 am . >> you're right. there was a safety patrol and you had to be on the corner 10 minutes ahead of time. all the sudden, you teaching a 12-year-old to be on time. when you come in the school building, take off your hat, teaching young men how to cope with the system. when the teachers come to the door and a 12 or 13-year-old opens the door , what do you teach them? manners. slowly but surely. these are the kinds of things in the back of my mind, learning how to fly. oh that's
a joke i can't tell. we have something special coming so thank you for your time. there's a reminder that to be early is on time and to be on time is to be late . >> i think it's very important to appreciate the fact that you don't have to be a pilot to be in the air force. the air force has a wide range of activities that people are getting involved in. you can do both, be readying
yourself and at the same time, selecting your career, something else. for instance, i was in tech intelligence and i was responsible for those kinds of things that you can anticipate and lots of schooling . at least 10 years of schooling, and that's a real life you can be happy with that. if you can get into the lifeline, that's fine, i like to fly and i got into flying and had a good time but, i also recognized that the air force used people other than pilots. these are the people responsible
for the pilots, like the crew chiefs we had. they had to go to understand and had a single appreciation and dedication to a subject. when i came down and got the airplane, but he used to walk over to me and say, where are we going today? and when i came back he said what did you do with the airplane? >> for instance, i watched your man down there do it, i was right behind him. [ laughter ]
>> okay. please remain seated. we have questions of mr. robert . >> first of all, thank you very much for one of the highlights, not only of our day but i suspect the highlights of our lives, in listening to not just american heroes, the heroes that have stood up and taken responsibility for themselves and for others, so on behalf of the former air force guy who was not a pilot, i want to express my appreciation for your leadership, for the example you set, for your bravery and for your dedication. thank you very much. [ applause ] with that, ladies and gentlemen. please be seated i would now
introduce again, mr. jim roberts, president and founder of the american veteran center for a special presentation . >> thank you. it's an honor to have that tuskegee airmen with us. i heard you would be inspirational, and you were, but i didn't know you'd be that entertaining. thank you for being with us. if you haven't done so yet, take the opportunity to visit the rotunda and see our founding documents on display. see you after lunch. have a good lunch.
>> coming up on c-span, thursday at 8 pm eastern time, supreme court justice followed by john roberts friday at eight a.m. eastern, chris christie and others discussed the opioid epidemic. saturday from 8 pm eastern, photojournalist talk about their favorite photographs taken on the campaign trail and
sunday at 6:30 p.m. eastern, gun laws and self- defense on book tv on c-span two thursday at 8:30 pm eastern, stanley mcchrystal talks about 13 great leaders, friday at 8 pm eastern on afterwards. political writer derek hunter for saturday at 8 pm eastern, pulitzer prize-winning war photographer talks about photos she's taken in the middle east sunday at 9 p.m. on afterwards, josi antonio vargas on american history tv on cspan-3 thursday at 5:30 p.m. eastern on american artifacts, celebrating the first english thanksgiving at berkeley virginia near jamestown in 1619, friday at 6:30 p.m. on the presidency. the former first lady, barbara bush, saturday at 8 pm eastern on lectures and history and how the pilgrims became part of
america's founding story. sunday at 9 am constitutional scholars talk about how the u.s. constitution defines impeachable offenses for the president. thanksgiving weekend on c-span. >> a look now at live events we will cover next week. british ambassador to the u.s., kim derek will discuss brexit and uk relations, they will be at the hudson institute on monday, live coverage at noon eastern time. on monday, discussion on populism and identity politics with authors and political analysts, we hear from andrew sullivan who writes for new york magazine, live coverage beginning at 5 pm eastern on cspan-3. coming up on american history tv, a conversation about how women's roles change during world war ii with