Tuskegee Airman Lt. Col. LeRoy Roberts Comes to Evergreen Veterans Day Celebration

November 4, 2003

Tues., Nov. 11, 2003
11:30 a.m.–1 p.m.
Communications Building, Recital Hall
Free and open to the public
Campus parking $1.25

In honor of all who have served in the military, The Evergreen State College invites the public to its free Veterans Day celebration on Tues., Nov. 11 from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. in the Communications Building Recital Hall. Retired Lt. Col. Leroy Roberts, one of the famed Tuskegee Airmen, is the guest speaker and will talk about the history of these first African American pilots in the U.S. Army Air Corps. A special free screening of the two-hour film “When We Were Kids … We Went to War,” in which Roberts appears, follows the program.

Roberts is a distinguished World War II fighter pilot who flew 42 missions with the 332nd Fighter Group stationed in Italy. Serving in Korea as a flight commander, he led 106 missions as part of the United Nations force. Roberts has been awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross with one cluster, the Air Medal with 11 clusters and the Air Force Commendation Medal with one cluster.

The Tuskegee Airmen enlisted to become the nation’s first black military airmen. Coming from every part of country during World War II, those who met the rigorous physical and mental standards were trained as aviators of single-engines planes and, later, as twin-engine pilots, navigators or bombardiers. Most were college students or graduates. Those with no college background demonstrated their academic qualifications through competitive entrance exams. Enlisted members were trained as aircraft and engine mechanics, armament specialists, radio repairmen, parachute riggers and other positions crucial to the flying squadrons.

Navigators, bombardiers and gunnery crews received their training at selected military bases. The airmen who qualified as pilots were trained at Tuskegee Army Air Field in Alabama. From 1942 through 1946, 992 pilots graduated from Tuskegee, receiving their wings and commissions. Of that group, 450 served overseas in either the 99th Pursuit Squadron or the 332nd Fighter Group. Both distinguished themselves in combat. The 99th became the only four-squadron fighter group to escort bombers in the 15th Air Force and posted the unprecedented record of flying all of its 200 bomber escort missions without the loss of a single bomber to enemy aircraft. It received two presidential citations for outstanding tactical air support and aerial combat in the 12th Air Force before joining the 332nd Fighter Group, which then was awarded a presidential unit citation for a remarkable bomber escort mission to Berlin.

Contact: Kate Lykins Brown, (360) 867-5213
Paul Gallegos, special assistant to the president, (360) 867-6368