Revisions

Red Tails and Tall Tales

January 20, 2012

It wasn’t until a dreaded Tuskegee Airmen Denier by the name of Dr. Daniel Haulman came along in 2007 and actually researched this story—started by black journalist Roi Ottley and quickly picked up by black newspaper The Chicago Defender in 1945—that the truth came to the surface.

Why not one of the members of the white bomber crew whose plane was shot down during escort by the 332d fighter group (the Red Tails) ever stepped forward and told the truth about the “never having a lost a bomber” myth is a testament to this fable’s relatively recent proliferation.

Though you couldn’t be thrown in jail for such an impolite inquiry to the veracity of the claims around the Red Tails as in Europe, Dr. Haulman did find intense pressure from entrenched academics, and the Tuskegee Airmen themselves, for daring to expose the truth behind the myth.

How dare Dr. Haulman question the legitimacy of the Tuskegee Airmen story and position himself as a Denier? Doesn’t he know the great victory over racism at home and fascism abroad these brave Nubian fighter pilots achieved?

No matter, for the National Park Service website entry on The Tuskegee Airmen National Historic Site still proudly lists this unfortunate falsehood:

Awarded a Distinguished Unit Citation for the mission, the Tuskegee Airmen did not lose a single bomber despite the superior German planes.

Haulman says they actually lost 25 bombers in 1944 and 1945 to those German planes, flown by young Luftwaffe pilots barely into puberty. But that doesn’t jibe with the narrative of being superior pilots—both with their aeronautical dexterity and moral compass—to inferior white pilots.

More than 1,200 white Army Air Force pilots were considered “aces” in World War II (meaning they had five or more confirmed kills); not one Tuskegee Airman earned the honor of being an “ace” unless you consider Detroit, a city that Mayor Coleman Young—yes, he was a Tuskegee Airman—helped destroy to be an “honorary” kill.

After all, 2012 Detroit looks like it was leveled by a couple thousand sorties.

Not to be quieted by accusations of Tuskegee Airmen Denialism, Haulman would author the small tract Nine Myths About the Tuskegee Airmen that pretty much shoots down all the lies sold as truth to keep the Red Tails story flying.

That the glorification of the black pilots is almost entirely based on lies—it wouldn’t be a stretch to say that 1986’s Iron Eagle is based on more truth—doesn’t matter. Only a Tuskegee Airmen Denier would think such unthinkable thoughts.

 

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