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Posted on: February 2, 2018

City & Jetport Celebrate Grand Opening of Tuskegee Airmen Exhibit

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The City of Portland and the Portland International Jetport will celebrate the grand opening of the new Tuskegee Airmen exhibit at the Jetport on Wednesday, February 7 at 10:00 AM. The exhibit, part of a Black History Month celebration, will honor the Tuskegee Airmen who defended our country during WWII, and through dedication, commitment, training, and performance forged the path to eliminating racial barriers within our U.S. Armed Forces.

For their patriotic example and bravery, the City and Jetport will honor all the Tuskegee Airmen, including those with a connection to Maine - Eugene B. Jackson and James A. Sheppard - with a permanent plaque in the terminal. Mr. Sheppard’s son, Robert Sheppard, will be on hand to give a brief presentation on the history of the Airmen.

WHO:  Mayor Ethan Strimling, City Councilors Jill Duson and Spencer Thibodeau, City Manager Jon Jennings, Jetport Director Paul Bradbury, Robert Sheppard, and other City officials.

WHAT:  Opening of the Tuskegee Airmen Exhibit & Plaque Dedication Ceremony

WHERE: Portland International Jetport, 1001 Westbrook Street, Lower Terminal

WHEN:  Wednesday, February 7, 2018 at 10:00 AM (Seating begins at 9:30 AM)

About the Tuskegee Airmen

In 1940, President Roosevelt overruled his top generals and ordered the Air Corps to establish a segregated flying unit, comprised only of African Americans. These men and women have become known as the Tuskegee Airmen. The Tuskegee Airmen were recruited into an Army Air Corps program that trained blacks to fly and maintain aircraft.  From 1942 to 1946, 992 pilots were trained at Tuskegee along with over 14,000 men and women who would perform support functions. These pilots flew over 15,000 sorties and 1,200 missions. Among their achievements: 150 Distinguished Flying Crosses, 744 Air Medals, 31 Purple Hearts and 14 Bronze Stars.

These brave heroes were forced to work within a segregated U.S. Armed Forces and returned to a home front of similar segregation.  It would be a number of years before the U.S. Armed Forces would become desegregated under President Truman.   It would be even more years before Tuskegee officers, men, and women would be properly honored for their heroic achievements during WWII.

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