Profile - The CAF Red Tail Project

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South St. Paul, MN, United States
The mission of the Commemorative Air Force's (CAF) Red Tail Squadron is to preserve and share the history and legacy of the Tuskegee Airmen, America's first black military pilots. The Airmen served with distinction during WWII (and beyond). They overcame racism on the ground to fight fascism in the air, fighting for a country that turned a blind eye to policies and a large population that discriminated against these men and their families because of the color of their skin. The CAF Red Tail Squadron restored and flies a red-tailed P-51C Mustang such as the Airmen flew during WWII. The airplane appears at air shows in North America and at each stop her crew tells the story of the Airmen and how through persistence and courage they overcame huge obstacles in order to serve in the military. In 2011, the CAF Red Tail Squadron developed a traveling exhibit called "RISE ABOVE" to educate people - especially young people - about the Airmen and how they demonstrated the importance of setting goals and overcoming obstacles in order to succeed.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Book Bits and Other Gifts

     Like a lot of non-profits, the CAF Red Tail Project sells things through its website to raise money for its mission.  Our online "store" features unique items like Red Tail Project dog tags and Tuskegee Airmen playing cards as well as high-quality RTP-logoed clothing items for all ages, beautiful aviation-related art prints, and books about and by Tuskegee Airmen.
     Today, as the holiday shopping season continues, we'd like to say a few words about two of the books we stock because they make awesome gifts:

     A-Train: Memoirs of a Tuskegee Airman  is an autobiography by Tuskegee Airman Charles W. Dryden (1920-2008) with a foreword by Lieutenant General Benjamin O. Davis, Jr., the man who commanded the Tuskegee Airmen during WWII and ultimately became the first black to ever attain the rank of General.   The book starts off with a bang as Dryden describes being court-martialed for buzzing the tower in 1944. 
     From that low point in his life (spoiler alert - it ends well, though), he jumps back to his early childhood and relates his life experiences - his lifelong desire to become a pilot, his rigorous training at Tuskegee, his experiences serving as a black pilot in the highly segregated U.S. Army Air Corps, and his post-war careers.   This is not a "guns blazing, I shot at the Luftwaffe pilot as I went into a steep dive" type of book.  Rather, it is a thoughtful recounting of a black man's journey towards an initial goal - to be able to fly and fight for his country - and the high and low points of that journey which expanded to include fighting segregation and bias wherever he found it. 
(published 2002; 440 pages)

Tuskegee Airman (4th edition) is the biography of Tuskegee Airman USAF Col. (ret) Charles E. McGee (1919- ) written by his daughter, Charlene E. McGee Smith, PhD.  Like so many of the Tuskegee Airmen, McGee's life story is one of perseverance in the face of huge obstacles facing him and his peers as they tried to reach their goals simply because their skin was black. After his experiences as a fighter pilot in WWII - where he flew a P-51 named "Kitten" after his wife and his flight mechanic who "kept the airplane purring" -  he remained in the Air Force.  When he retired in 1973, he had the highest three-war total of fighter missions of any aviator - 409. 
     Since his retirement from the military, Col McGee has been a tireless advocate of the importance of family values, love of country, and the value of getting an education.  He has also been a staunch supporter of the CAF Red Tail Project since its inception 15 years ago.
(published 1999, 2008; 244 pages)  

     These are just a couple of the great items for sale at our online store. If you (or someone you know) love history, airplanes, art prints, or quality clothing and hats, we hope you'll shop with us this holiday season.  All proceeds benefit the CAF Red Tail Project's mission of preserving the history and legacy of the Tuskegee Airmen.

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