JOINT BASE CHARLESTON, S.C. –
Joint Base Charleston hosted a Black History Month Aviation Heritage Event featuring several units and aircraft from around the Air Force, Feb. 18-19, 2022.
Accelerating the Legacy is an event that honors the past, develops the present, and promotes the future of the legacy of the Tuskegee Airmen by focusing on professional development for military members and exposing students from elementary through high school-ages in the local community to aviation.
After recognizing a need for mentorship for underrepresented members of the Air Force and students in the Charleston area, U.S. Air Force Capt. Nic Young, 15th Airlift Squadron C-17 Globemaster III pilot and ATL team-lead and U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Raheem Crockett, 15th AS loadmaster and ATL co-lead, worked with Joint Base Charleston leaders to host the two-day event.
“I, personally, was overwhelmed with pride to see a Total Force Integration Air Force wide event about the legacy of the Tuskegee Airmen unfold before my eyes,” said Young. “Accelerating The Legacy started as a shared idea amongst friends that has now materialized into an event that provides mentorship, fellowship, and professional development that multiplies and enhances the symbolism of the legacy of the Tuskegee Airmen. This weekend serves as a reminder that this is our Air Force heritage and not just the heritage of our African American members.”
During the first day of ATL, seasoned aviators from different bases across the Air Force flew in to provide professional development and mentorship for military members. Multiple events throughout the day allowed officers and enlisted personnel to ask questions and get a better understanding of the importance of their work.
“It's hard to put into words what actually happened,” said Crockett. “I never thought I would be able to get an opportunity like this. This opportunity has been indescribable.”
Events such as this one allow the Tuskegee legacy to be forwarded and to inspire those who may not see potential in themselves.
“Sgt Crockett and I saw an opportunity and decided this event was necessary for the local Charleston community,” said Young. “With the help of our leadership in their direct guidance, Joint Base Charleston partnered with the Legacy Flight Academy to make sure this effort was capable of happening.”
Together, Young and Crockett knew the ATL event would positively impact the military and local community. Being able to showcase diversity in all walks of life for students was also made possible through partnership with the Legacy Flight Academy and their Eyes Above The Horizon program.
“Representation matters and this event is that, tenfold,” said Crockett. “I, myself, didn’t see things like this growing up. So I’m glad that we can do this and give these kids this opportunity.”
Young echoed Crockett’s words.
“Accelerating the Legacy gave students a chance to actually fly,” said Young. “They also had a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to meet Documented Original Tuskegee Airman, Dr. Eugene Richardson Jr. Attendees talked about college, careers and other Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics topics, learning about college-like opportunities and seeing things they have never seen before.”
Crockett said his favorite part of the day was the possibility that more than 100 kids are going home with a new game plan for their future.
“For me this day was monumental,” said Crockett. “In my 15-year career, I've never seen an event like this until last year. I was just blessed to be here.”
For Young, one of the most significant takeaways from the event was the students seeing people who look like them and people who don’t look like them doing things they never thought possible.
“This event allowed me to see myself as a child again,” said Young. “I never had the opportunity to see things like this before. So with the students, my hope is that this is something we can continue to grow in the greater Charleston area and even further.”