Page:United States Statutes at Large Volume 112 Part 5.djvu/497

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PUBLIC LAW 105-355 —NOV. 6, 1998 112 STAT. 3255 (4) In 1941 the United States Army Air Corps awarded a contract to Tuskegee Institute to operate a primary flight school at Moton Field. Tuskegee Institute (now known as Tuskegee University) chose an African-American contractor who designed and constructed Moton Field, with the assistance of its faculty and students, as the site for its military pilot training program. The field was named for the school's second president, Robert Russa Moton. Consequently, Tuskegee Institute was one of a very few American institutions (and the only African-American institution) to own, develop, and control facilities for military flight instruction. (5) Moton Field, also known as the Primary Flying Field or Airport Number 2, was the only primary flight training facility for African-American pilot candidates in the United States Army Air Corps during World War II. The facility symbolizes the entrance of African-American pilots into the United States Army Air Corps, although on the basis of a policy of segregation that was mandated by the military and institutionalized in the South. The facility also symbolizes the singular role of Tuskegee Institute (Tuskegee University) in providing leadership as well as economic and educational resources to make that entry possible. (6) The Tuskegee Airmen were the first African-American soldiers to complete their training successfully and to enter the United States Army Air Corps. Almost 1,000 aviators were trained as America's first African-American military pilots. In addition, more than 10,000 military and civilian African-American men and women served as flight instructors, officers, bombardiers, navigators, radio technicians, mechanics, air traf- fic controllers, parachute riggers, electrical and communications specialists, medical professionals, laboratory assistants, cooks, musicians, supply, firefighting, and transportation personnel. (7) Although military leaders were hesitant to use the Tuskegee Airmen in combat, the Airmen eventually saw considerable action in North Africa and Europe. Acceptance from United States Army Air Corps units came slowly, but their courageous and, in many cases, heroic performance earned them increased combat opportunities and respect. (8) The successes of the Tuskegee Airmen proved to the American public that African-Americans, when given the opportunity, could become effective military leaders and pilots. This helped pave the way for desegregation of the military, beginning with President Harry S. Truman's Executive Order 9981 in 1948. The Tuskegee Airmen's success also helped set the stage for civil rights advocates to continue the struggle to end racial discrimination during the civil rights movement of the 1950's and 1960's. (9) The story of the Tuskegee Airmen also reflects the struggle of African-Americans to achieve equal rights, not only through legal attacks on the system of segregation, but also through the techniques of nonviolent direct action. The members of the 477th Bombardment Group, who staged a nonviolent demonstration to desegregate the officer's club at Freeman Field, Indiana, helped set the pattern for direct action protests popularized by civil rights activists in later decades. (b) PURPOSES. —The purposes of this title are the following: Robert Russa Moton. Harry S. Truman.