On Wednesday, the city of Troy unveiled a historic marker at Troy Municipal Airport for a hangar that was originally used at the Tuskegee Army Air Field by the Tuskegee Airmen, or “Red Tails,” the first African-American pilots in the United States military.
“They paved the way for the integration of the armed forces, which was ordered by President Truman after World War II,” said Major Gen. Walter Givhan, the senior vice chancellor for advancement and economic development.
“The Air Force, having had the experience they had with the Tuskegee Airmen, was proudly the first ones of the armed forces to integrate, and we have benefited from that ever since.
“Here we have a proud reminder of that heritage.”
The hangar was disassembled after World War II and reassembled in Troy in 1947. It has now been placed on the Alabama Register of Historic Places.
Givhan was recently named chairman of the Alabama Historical Commission, the state’s official historic preservation agency.
“After World War II when that greatest generation came home, our enrollment doubled, but it was in 1950 that the role of the university truly began to change when we went aboard Camp Rucker to serve (military members),” said Chancellor Jack Hawkins.
“That was an interesting time in Alabama’s history, because Alabama’s education system was not integrated; the United States military was.
“That was never a boundary for Troy, and I’m so proud of that. It certainly gave us an opportunity to serve the men and women in uniform … Freedom truly is not free. Somebody pays a high price for it.”
“Hopefully as (students) learn about what (the Tuskegee Airmen) did and all of their accomplishments, they will be able to connect something that’s very tangible to the community that is home to their university,” said Mayor Jason Reeves.
One of the speakers at the event was Sheron Rose, the daughter of Tuskegee Airman Sherman T. Rose. She said if her father and the other airmen were around today they would want students at Troy University to “go forth and fly.”
“The main thing is to be prepared, make a positive difference in the world through aviation and inspire others,” Sheron Rose said. “You’ve got to always reach back and bring someone else along.”
Among the audience were three members of the 187th Fighter Wing at Montgomery Regional Air National Guard Base who — in honor of the Tuskegee Airmen — have red tails on some of their jets and renumbered their fighter squadron to the 100th.
According to Tommy James, the colonel and mission support group commander for the 187th Fighter Wing, the group has assumed the heritage of the Tuskegee Airmen in the Fighter Wing of Montgomery.