The National Aeronautic Association (NAA) has selected the Tuskegee Airmen as the recipient of the 2021 Clifford Henderson Trophy.
The Henderson Trophy, which is in the collection of the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum, was established in 1960 to honor the creator and managing director of the world-renowned National Air Races from 1928-1939. Clifford Henderson’s work stimulated a generation’s interest in aviation and challenged the state of the art in aviation development.
The trophy is awarded to “…a living individual, group of individuals, or an organization whose vision, leadership or skill made a significant and lasting contribution to the promotion and advancement of aviation and aerospace in the United States.”
Pilots of the 332nd Fighter Group, “Tuskegee Airmen,” the elite, all-African American 332nd Fighter Group at Ramitelli, Italy., from left to right, Lt. Dempsey W. Morgran, Lt. Carroll S. Woods, Lt. Robert H. Nelron, Jr., Capt. Andrew D. Turner, and Lt. Clarence P. Lester. (U.S. Air Force photo)
The Tuskegee Airmen were the first black military aviators in the U.S. Army Air Corps (the predecessor to the modern-day U.S. Air Force). In 1941, with the start of World War II imminent, it was decided to offer training to African Americans as pilots, mechanics, and support staff. The new air base in Tuskegee, Alabama, became the center of the training program for more than 14,000 black air personnel.
First with the 99th Fighter Squadron and later with the 332nd Fighter Group, the Tuskegee Airmen made significant contributions to the war effort, serving
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