City ceremony honors legendary Tuskegee Airmen
Col. R. J. Lewis stood near a wall inside the hangar at the Russellville Municipal Airport Saturday.
As he spoke of the men he learned from at Tuskegee University, many of whom adorned that wall, he beamed with pride and satisfaction of what he learned from them, but most importantly, he felt a sense of pride in knowing what type of men they were.
Lewis was part of a contingent who gathered in Russellville over the weekend to celebrate Armed Forces Day with a dedication ceremony of the Tuskegee Airmen Wall of Fame inside the airport.
“This is a special place filled with patriotism and we thank the community for that,” Lewis said.
“I have traveled to 26 countries around the world with the uniform on and the hospitality of this place is second to none.”
The Russellville Municipal Airport hosted a special Armed Forces Day festival with activities scheduled throughout the day starting with the Glory Hill Half Marathon, Franklin County’s first ever half marathon; a Nautical Mile Run, which organizers think was the first of its kind to ever be held anywhere; and a special presentation to dedicate a wall in the airport terminal to the Tuskegee Airmen and a presentation by Dr. Daniel Haulman, co-author of “The Tuskegee Airmen: An Illustrated History: 1939-1949,” followed by a book signing and a meet-and-greet with the representatives of the Tuskegee Airmen.
Eight members of the Tuskegee Airmen visited the Russellville Municipal Airport in 2008 and since that time, Blue Diamond Aviation and Russellville Airport manager has been working on a wall of fame containing framed pictures of the airmen and other memorabilia.
The Tuskegee Airmen is the name given to the first African-American military pilots who fought in World War II.
Dr. Daniel Haulman, author of The Tuskegee Airmen: An Illustrated History 1939-1949, presented a history of the airmen, who accounted for 112 aerial victories during the war.
“The Tuskegee Airmen were a special group that played an important role in the United States’ efforts in World War II,” Russellville City Councilman Jamie Harris said.
“I am proud the airport and the city are able to honor these men.”
Russellville Mayor David Grissom recalled meeting the eight members of the Tuskegee Airmen in 2008.
“I began researching them a little more then and it’s astonishing just how important of a role they played in WWII and American history,” Grissom said.
“I hope this lets them know that the city of Russellville appreciates what they did for our country and the world.”