Tuskegee airman visits Newnan VA Clinic
By ALEX MCRAE
A member of the famed Tuskegee Airmen was the guest of honor at a Friday reception at the Newnan VA Clinic.
Raymond Williams recounted the struggles he and other black men faced to become accepted as pilots.
The Tuskegee Airmen were the country’s first African-American military aviators. During World War II, U.S. Armed forces were racially segregated, as was much of society. The Tuskegee Airmen had to overcome racial discrimination both within the Army and out, but overcame all obstacles to distinguish themselves as one of America’s finest groups of aviators.
Williams summed up the attitude of the group when he said: “It’s hard to imagine what we went through to break that barrier. But we knew that if you put your mind to it and put your back to it, you can do it. And that’s what we did.”
Williams recounted his entire Army experience, beginning when he enlisted in 1942. After earlier assignments, he was finally selected for the flight program. He explained that it was called “The Tuskegee Experiment” by Army social scientists and officers who saw the flight training in Tuskegee as an “experiment” to prove the idea that blacks were mentally incapable of flying.
“We straightened that out,” Williams said.
He praised his flight instructors and superior officers, both black and white, and said the unit was a close-knit group that remained devoted to each other.
Williams received his pilot’s wings in June 1945. He was on assignment in the Pacific theater when the atom bombs fell on Japan and World War II ended. He says the lessons he learned as a member of the Tuskegee Airmen are good advice for anyone.
“I learned to become a person who says I’m going to succeed and work toward this or that and don’t let anyone stop you.”