Tuskegee Airmen National Historic Site commemorates the contributions of the Tuskegee Airmen during World War II—and to American society afterward. The site preserves Moton Field, where the airmen trained before going to war. Their courageous performance in wartime earned them opportunity and respect at home and abroad. Their efforts helped pave the way for military desegregation and for the civil rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s.
Like most of American society in the 1940s, the military was strictly segregated along racial lines. The Tuskegee Airmen served in separate units throughout the war. Despite these conditions and the skepticism of the military leadership, the molded themselves into highly effective combat units and served their country with distinction. The men of the 99th Fighter Squadron and the 332nd Fighter Group completed over 1,500 missions, destroyed over 260 enemy aircraft (112 in the air), sank one enemy destroyer, and demolished many enemy installations.
We all were prepared to fight and die for our country, and after the war . . . we were prepared to fight and die for our rights . . . I think that is the contribution that was made at Tuskegee."
George S. Lima, 2001
Aviation cadets watch their pre-flight instructor describe a flight
maneuver, around 1941. The Piper J-3 "Cub" behind them was used
to introduce the young cadets to flying, many for the first time.