Tuskegee Airmen share war stories at First Baptist Academy - FOX 26 News | MyFoxHouston

Tuskegee Airmen visit Houston students at First Baptist Academy and share war stories

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HOUSTON (FOX 26) -

They are 89, 90, and 91 years old…and were part of what we've come to know as the Tuskegee Airmen.

Flight officer Daniel Keel wants the world to know that the Tuskegee Airmen encompass not just pilots. He explains, "…a lot of people think the Tuskegee experiment was just pilots. There weren't just pilots. There were navigators, there were bombardiers, there were doctors, nurses, mechanics, and other personnel, even the cooks were a part of the Tuskegee experiment."

And some of the stories of the 14, 000 men and women who were assigned to Tuskegee were told in the 2012 LucasFilm motion picture "Red Tails."

Master Sgt. James Sheppard was the crew chief mechanic and says he was trained on every kind of airplane American airplane during World War II. He adds, "…once I was assigned to the fighter squadron, I supported the planes. That's four different airplanes. We used four different fighters at different periods of time. And each one had a different engine, different guns."

Major Jennings says he wanted to be a singer but couldn't hold a note and decided to join the war effort as a 2nd Lt. Navigator. He tells others, "I got over 2,000 hours as a navigator. I came back from every trip I made. But I was lucky."

All of them admit there were occasional obstacles with white officers who didn't like Negroes.

Theirs are just 3 of the stories about World War II they take to school children whenever they have the opportunity to do so. And this day they were at The First Baptist Academy.

"My main reason for talking with kids is to let them know that if you get a good education, work hard, and try, you can accomplish something. Without a good education, you're just wasting your time" says Flight Officer Keel.

Master Sgt. James Sheppard adds, "This is the time for them to learn about the History of WW2 that is what we're talking about. And what better time and place can you get this sort of information, except from the people who lived it".

And, several students of First Baptist Academy agree. Just ask Sam Whitaker who tell FOX 26 News, "It's really great to listen to walking, talking history."

Classmate Emily Ligon echoes Whitaker's remarks, saying, "…they have so many more details that you don't get to hear. And just like their opinions on it that we probably wouldn't hear if we just read it from a book."

They were pilots, navigators, mechanics and much more during a time of war. Now, these surviving Tuskegee Airmen are sharing their stories by taking on the roles of historian and teacher for those fortunate enough to meet them. And, I am in that category.

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