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Fri, 10.20.2006

Tuskegee Airmen Heritage Becomes Certified Military Curriculum

Retired Col. R. J. Lewis speaksat Robert Moton Field

On this date in 2006, the heritage of the Tuskegee Airmen became a component of the classroom curriculum of the United States Air Force Officers Training School.

Trainees attending Officer Training School to become future leaders of the Air Force will now visit the place where the Air Force's first black pilots attended training more than 60 years ago. Officer trainees visit various historic sites in Tuskegee, AL, as part of an expanded curriculum to enhance trainee’s knowledge of Air Force history and heritage, particularly the service's first Black aviators, the Tuskegee Airmen.

Officials at the school approved a plan for a set of courses that includes tours to facilities where the Army Air Corps' first Black aviators, the Tuskegee Airmen, made history.  The plan also includes classroom instruction, film presentations, and briefings from distinguished Tuskegee aviators such as retired Colonel R.J. Lewis, who will also share some of his personal experiences with other legendary Tuskegee Airmen, such as Generals Benjamin O. Davis Jr. and Daniel "Chappie" James.

Lieutenant Colonel Hans Palaoro, 24th Training Squadron commander, said, "This partnering of the Air Force's OTS and Tuskegee's historic Robert Moton Field is a direct response to the Air Force chief of staff's call for all Airmen to learn more about and embrace their proud heritage."

Officer Trainee Gerry Thompson, an 11-year Air Force veteran, said the visit to Tuskegee inspired him professionally and personally. "Listening to Colonel Lewis was inspirational and motivational because, despite all the prejudice and discrimination, the Tuskegee Airmen had the strength and perseverance to maintain a standard of excellence that was truly amazing," Thompson said he was so impressed that he plans to come back to Tuskegee with his family.

Major George Scheers, 24th Training Squadron director of operations, said, “Incorporating Tuskegee's proud history into the curriculum without cutting other course material took some creative thinking, but they were still able to develop a successful plan for implementation.” Captain Arnold Bowen, 24th TRS assistant director of operations, added that students will now have a standardized training schedule instead of weekly schedules for each class due to holidays. This allows officials to focus more on courses such as history and heritage, cultural awareness, and Air Expeditionary Force skills as outlined by the Air Force chief of staff.

OTS officials said some new curriculum changes will be added gradually until a newly expanded syllabus is implemented in the fiscal year 2008.

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