Original Home of the Tuskegee Airmen? Illinois

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Urbana – Signs are being erected marking the birthplace of the historic Tuskegee Airmen.  Not in Alabama.  In central Illinois.

The Tuskegee Airmen were black aviators during World War Two.  In the segregated 1940’s they were not permitted to fly with white aviators.

“At first the airmen were to be trained in St. Louis,” said Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner.  “But St. Louis did not want African American pilots in their air space.”

The airmen were eventually trained at the old Chanute Army Airfield which later became the Chanute Air Force Base.  It was several months before the training was moved to Alabama.

The Tuskegee Airmen fought in active combat.  But when they came home they could not get jobs with commercial airlines.

“None of them were given the opportunity to use those superior skills in the field of commercial aviation because of segregation,” stated Kenneth Rapier of the Chicago Chapter of the Tuskegee Airmen, Inc.

This week marks the 75th anniversary of the airmen coming to Champaign County.

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