Western Pennsylvania had the largest contingency of soldiers—about 100—who enlisted in the Tuskegee Airmen program.
Now the black fighter pilots and soldiers who fought in the U.S. armed forces during World War II are being honored with a fitting tribute at the Pittsburgh International Airport.
Members of the Western Pennsylvania Tuskegee Airmen Memorial of Greater Pittsburgh, Inc., joined federal, state, county and local officials Thursday in unveiling the largest Tuskegee Airmen Recognition Exhibit in any U.S. airport.
Wendell Freeland of Pittsburgh, who served as a flight officer bombardier, was at the airport for the unveiling.
"I hope they will understand that all people, regardless of race, creed or color, can accomplish if they have the desire to do it and they are given the opportunity," Freeland told WTAE in reference to the exhibit's message to the public.
Located at Gate A in the airport concourse, Regis D. Bobonis, Sr., historian and chairman of the Tuskegee Airmen Memorial of the Greater Pittsburgh Region, Inc. said he expects thousands will see the exhibit over the next few years.
“Our history books are woefully lacking when it comes to the story of these men and women who piloted and supported the ‘Red Tails.’”
The exhibit, only accessible to flyers on the air side of the airport, includes photographic images of the airmen and one woman, Rose Mae Willis Alford of Beaver County.
Historical narratives on glass plaques tell the story of the Tuskegee Airmen. Nearly 100 Airmen from Western Pennsylvania are listed, which includes the seven who served from Sewickley.
One wall depicts the illustrious careers of several airmen who, after the war, became doctors, attorneys, pilots, teachers and business owners.
Thursday's ribbon cutting kicked off a four-day schedule of events, which include:8 p.m. Friday, Sept. 13—Concert by Josh White, Jr., Quaker Valley Elementary School band, with a reception and meet and greet at the Edgeworth Club. Free but RSVP, Rich at 412-773-0899 or email@example.com
8 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 14—"Black Angels over Tuskegee", Off-Broadway play, Byham Theater, Pittsburgh. Tickets at trustarts.org or 412-456-6666.VIP reception at 6pm includes play ticket ($100)
2 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 15—Tuskegee Airmen Memorial Dedication, largest outdoor memorial in the US At Sewickley Cemetery. Christian Motorcycle Association & Veterans' motorcycle led processional from the Village of Sewickley. Cras provided by Sewickley Car Store for Tuskegee Airmen and families. Music by Pittsburgh Ceremonial Brass & Josh White, Jr. Free and open to the public. Remote parking at sites in Sewickley and free shuttle bus service to cemetery. (Rain location: Sewickley United Methodist Church)
7 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 15—Community Appreciation Concert featuring The Pittsburgh Gospel Choir at Sewickley Methodist Church. Free and open to the public.