Storied: From Ft. Snelling to Tuskegee Airman, Part 3


(music) Fort Snelling is where my whole career in the military started and that was a big starting point in my life. They fitted me up in my clothes, gave me my issue: shoes, uniform, the rest of it, and I can remember coming home and I’m wearing my little uniform walking around, “Hey, I’ve been selected to go to military flight training.” Fort Snelling was a big recruitment place and I was just one of the mob. Got my paperwork and I was on my way to Biloxi, Mississippi. We then went from there up to Tuskegee Institute. Out of the 60 of us, 40 of us made it. In May of 1944, I graduated from flying school, the second lieutenant. Had my flying wings at 19 years of age . I was on cloud nine. The greatest thing that ever said good morning, Lord (laughs). We had our own segregated air force. We were the Red Tails; very readily identified fighters. We were escorting bombers. (plane engine) We would get with them, escort them up to the target, over the target. If we encountered enemy aircraft, of course we would protect them. (gunfire) (plane crashing) (music) I was shot down and I can remember trying to reconcile with myself: Harold, you’re going to die. What are you going to do?

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