Red Tailed Angels

At this time of year we celebrate the contributions of Doctor Martin Luther King regarding the rights and responsibilities we share with our fellow citizens. Our thoughts turn to justice, fairness and the state of our communion. Being human, we tend to compose paradigms of each other from our prejudice, from our agendas, from our aspirations, from countless perceived slights that creep into our minds and hearts, and from the mistaken idea of our own specialness. Perhaps it’s a moment of true enlightenment when we’re knocked off our horse by the realization that no one is special .  .  . or rather everyone is. We are all blessed with every quality along the order of magnitude that creates a human being. Each and every one of us has it within to be a villain or a hero, a hater or a benefactor – the happenstance of our birth in respect to culture, geography, religion, race and economic circumstance notwithstanding. It is certainly a choice we make as to which of these qualities we use to engage one another. It’s good news indeed that we can at any time, right now even, change our mind about our brothers and sisters. And by changing our mind, we literally change the world.

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There is a George Lucas film being released later this month called Red Tails. It tells the story of the Tuskegee Airmen. These were a segregated group of African American fighter pilots that flew at the highest altitude of excellence during World War II. They painted the tails of their P-47 Thunderbolts and P-51 Mustangs red and so the nickname was born. The Red Tails earned an impressive combat record escorting heavy bombers in their sorties over Europe. Many a bomber crew credited these pilots with getting them safely back home and added the word “angels” to their distinctive moniker.

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However, these impressive gentlemen were forced to battle more than the Nazi enemy. They had to contend with racism, insult, hatred and suspicion from their own countrymen. First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt even took a ride with flight instructor Alfred “Chief” Anderson just to prove that African Americans were capable as any pilot. And it’s a sad fact that German prisoners were granted more privileges in terms of interacting with their American captors than these brave men were allowed with their fellow white combatants. The Tuskegee Airmen were required to sleep in their own barracks, eat at their own tables, use their own lavatories, and drink at their own fountains even as German and American officers often dined and socialized together.

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It boggles the mind that it took another twenty years for the struggle of Civil Rights to really take hold in our country. On the other hand, if not for the superb accomplishments of these men, it may have taken far longer. After the Red Tailed Angels distinguished themselves as first rate, combat tested pilots, no one could deny that competency, courage, loyalty, dedication, dependability, patriotism and heroism were the legacy of all Americans no matter the continent of their ancestors.

Edward F. Petersen, Creative Director, American Public House Review 

Photos courtesy of Airforce Historical Research Group.

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We at American Public House Review Talk about subjects such as this every day. We consider the pub to be the parliament of the common man. Give us a look:

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FROM THIS PUBLICAN’S PERCH, November 2007

Chris PohAt some point during the cobbling together of this particular issue someone requested a file name for November’s content. After a cursory review of the articles my response was call it “The War Years.” Whether by intent or fortune this author and our merry band of stringers seemed to have wandered into pubs that have a profound connection to the armed conflicts that have defined this nation. It seems that guns, guts and glory have always been the convenient forte of the fourth estate.

Contained within these pages are the memories and stories of those who have fought, and in many instances given the last full measure on behalf of country. Framed in perfect settings of wood and stone, and accented with the trophies and artistic depictions of battle, these stories take on a lore and grandeur that soften the suffering and hardships of battle. But in many other locations throughout this land are much simpler rooms that serve as the final post for those that truly understand the brutality, bloodshed and tragedy of war. To these veterans and legionnaires we raise our glasses.

Next month our reporters take on rough seas and salt water. Our roving scribes will be anchored in bars from the beaches of California to the rugged coastline of Maine. As for me, the only salt that I’ll taste will be on the rim of a Margarita glass from the relative calm of Baltimore’s Inner Harbor. Till then we wish you a great November and a very Happy Thanksgiving!

Published in: on March 11, 2008 at 1:34 pm  Leave a Comment  
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