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Culture, healing, politics and bullshit - Not necessarily in that order

The general, socio-political and very personal rantings and ravings of a hip hop head from the hood hustling for change... Of himself.

You all know me and are aware that I am unable to remain silent. At times to be silent is to lie. For silence can be interpreted as acquiescence.
—Miguel de Unamuno


Monday, May 31, 2010

Great Day For Old War Stories

Tuskegee Airman tells of crashing behind enemy lines in WWII

The 90-year-old South Side war veteran still vividly recalls the crash landing as if it were yesterday.
It was during World War II when Welton Taylor, a liaison pilot and member of the famed Tuskegee Airmen, America's first black military air squad, was serving in the Pacific Theater of Operations, flying L-4 and L-5 aircraft with the 93rd Infantry Division.

Taylor saw combat on the Solomon Islands, New Guinea and the Philippines.
On a non-combat mission, delivering mail to the troops, his plane crashed behind Japanese lines.
"I was criminally attacked by a Japanese mountain 33 miles into Japanese territory, while flying a mission of mercy for my troops," said Taylor, who later was to become a world-renowned scientist and educator. In 1985, the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta named a bacterium, Enterobacter taylorae, after him and a British colleague.

"I was carrying their mail, and I managed to deliver all my mail and was on my way home when I saw this horrible storm building up," he said.

"I was trying to climb over the last of the mountains when I hit the mountain. But instead of hitting on my nose, which would have exploded the gas tank on my lap, I slid down a grassy slope, losing parts of the plane as I crashed.

"I had an observer in the plane with me. We both survived," he recounts. "I was able to walk away with only my kneecaps showing, and so I pulled my skin up over my kneecaps, sprinkled some sulfa on it and two band-aids, and kept moving. I took the compass out of the plane, because south of the equator, you cannot walk in a straight line in a forest or jungle.

"We walked for two days, and made it past two Japanese camps. On the second day, we were rescued by our troops on the beach."

Taylor, a descendant of President Zachary Taylor, is one of several members of the 332nd Fighter Group, commonly known as the Tuskegee Airmen, living in the Chicago area.
Huge WWII success
Members of the Chicago chapter, who will be marching in the annual Memorial Day Parade downtown today, were among the 450 fighter pilots who were trained at an air base in Tuskegee, Ala., to fly and maintain combat aircraft as a segregated unit. They broke barriers for African Americans.
"We'll have our own float, with a large model of the P51 airplane, which is what the Tuskegee Airmen flew in combat in Italy," Taylor said proudly.

The unit, which became one of the most successful flying squadrons in U.S. military history, protecting Allied bombers over some 200 escort missions in Europe, never lost one bomber under their protection to enemy fighters. They destroyed or damaged more than 400 German aircraft and more than 1,000 targets.

But despite their distinguished record, they faced discrimination back home when they returned and were never recognized until much later. In 2007, President George W. Bush collectively awarded some 300 members and their widows the Congressional Gold Medal.

"It was 61 years late. But I'm glad I stuck around and waited for it," said the retired bacteriologist.
"Many of us are gone now. Another died yesterday at age 90, so I don't think we'll have as many on the float as in the past, but it's been an unbelievable ride."

1 comment:

Tiffany said...

I love talking to them when I see them at air shows. Our family knows one that lives in northeast Ohio. Mr. Saunders is such a nice man. He gets excited when we come to the air show and listen to his stories or flirt with him because he was fine.

Peace, Love and Chocolate