JOINT BASE CHARLESTON, S.C. —
North Charleston High School celebrated Black History Month by honoring the legacy of the Tuskegee Airmen, a group of African American military pilots who fought in World War II, during a school presentation Feb. 28, 2019.
Capt. Alex Flowers, 14th Airlift Squadron C-17 Globemaster III pilot, and Fred Wilson, NASA Community Outreach Program representative, along with members of the South Carolina Spann Watson Chapter of Tuskegee Airman Inc., visited with students and shared their personal stories as they provided a brief history of the pilots who faced discrimination with dignity while serving in America's segregated Armed Forces during WWII.
Flowers shared his story of growing up in Atlanta, Georgia, and how he worked hard for his dream to serve as a U.S. Air Force C-17 pilot despite adversity and challenges.
“Growing up, I had always wanted to be a pilot. I was inspired at a young age by seeing a few air shows and thought ‘I want to do that.’ It just seemed really cool,” said Flowers. “I had also heard about Tuskegee Airmen from watching the movie ’The Tuskegee Airmen.’ It was so inspiring to see African-Americans joining the military, fighting for their country and flying military aircraft.”
Flowers emphasized how learning more about the legacy of Tuskegee Airmen inspired him to make his dream of becoming a pilot a reality.
“The point that I want to make is that I’m not too far away from where you all are,” said Flowers. “It wasn’t that long ago that I was sitting in your shoes and wondering about what I wanted to do after I graduated.”
Flowers stated he was glad to help educate a new generation of students about the Tuskegee Airmen and their significance to American history.
“I think it’s important to show our youth the legacy of the Tuskegee Airmen and their importance to American history,” Flowers said. “They not only inspired me but opened doors of opportunities for younger generations to come.”
Retired U.S. Air Force Col. John Summers, South Carolina Spann Watson Chapter of Tuskegee Airmen Inc. member, and Wilson also shared their stories and emphasized the importance of having discipline and personal accountability to achieve your dreams.
“When I left home and went to college, I had the discipline to keep going. These guys who fought had discipline,” said Summers. “I didn’t look back to see where I had come from, I looked in the direction I wanted to go. I set that goal because it was an achievable goal and I did not stop until I got there. If you have self-discipline, then you can do anything.”
Wilson also encouraged the youths to challenge themselves and to be setting positive examples in their communities and around the world.
“I wouldn’t be standing here if it weren’t for the Tuskegee Airmen. They opened doors, they proved that they could fly—and fly really well, too.” said Wilson. “Not only do we have pilots of all types, flying all kinds of aircraft, we now figured out how to do it so well, we are in space now. I challenge you all to continue opening doors in the fields of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math.”
Tony Mosley, North Charleston High School student guidance counselor, thanked the speakers for taking this opportunity to educate and motivate the students.
“We want to thank all those who spoke today and who continue to educate children on the contributions of the men and women who went through the Tuskegee experience, fought in World War II and went on to do greater things.”
Mosley went on to say he hoped students took away something valuable from the insights the speakers shared, as well as the history explained to them.
“Remember those who came before you who were determined to make a difference,” he added. “They made history and paved the trail. The Tuskegee Airmen were important to not only black history, but American history, and it is essential to continue educating the youth about their contributions to the U.S. Air Force.”