Joint Base Charleston, S.C. –
Joint Base Charleston hosted the Hiram E. Mann Tuskegee Airmen Incorporated chapter on base during the Accelerating the Legacy event to recognize them for their efforts to preserve the legacy of the Tuskegee Airmen.
The Tuskegee Airmen were the first African American military aviators in the U.S. Army Air Corps. They played an important part in changing the course of equality in the military.
Col. Jaron Roux, the 437th Airlift Wing commander at Joint Base Charleston, believes that continuing to tell the story of the Tuskegee Airmen is crucial to the continuance of making progress and creating equality in the military.
“It's important for everyone to learn about the heritage of the Tuskegee Airmen. It is part of Air Force history,” he said. “It's an inspiring story that encourages us to serve our country, and fight to move forward and break barriers.”
James Hampton, a member of the Hiram E. Mann TAI chapter, feels that the military has made and continues to make progress in terms of equality with every new generation of military members since the Tuskegee Airmen were formed.
“This is a great event and I appreciate that I’m able to be here to celebrate with everyone,” he said. “I feel like the greatness I’ve witnessed here is in thanks to the Tuskegee Airmen and all their accomplishments. We’ve been able to stand on their shoulders with the progress they made for us, and now everyone here is able to stand on our shoulders with the progress we’ve made for them.”
Roux added that as he progressed through his military career, learning the story of the Tuskegee Airmen helped push him to want to achieve higher goals.
“I am inspired by the Tuskegee Airmen,” he said. “Growing up, I didn't know much about who they were or what they did. Once I became an Airman, I learned about their story. That story, has inspired and helped me pursue excellence. That's one of our core values, excellence in all we do and I try to live that each and every day.”
With February being African American Heritage month, the local TAI chapter visiting the base had greater significance. It was a celebration to commemorate the legacy that the Tuskegee Airmen bring to the Air Force and to celebrate the importance of the month.
“The legacy of the Tuskegee Airmen is an example of what is possible with perseverance and grit,” Roux said. “During World War II, there was a belief throughout our military that African Americans were incapable of doing complex things like flying and maintaining aircraft. The Tuskegee Airmen proved them wrong. It is a testament to what we can do to break barriers and set examples. These heroes demonstrated what it means to have courage and serve our nation. My desire is that all Airmen, black, white, or whatever live up to their example.”