Tuskegee Airmen receive the Congressional Gold Medal

The Tuskegee Airmen, those most unsung of heroes of World War II, are finally getting what they deserve.

In recognition of their selfless sacrifice to a country that refused believed in them before they went into combat, the 99th Pursuit Group, 332nd Fighter Group and 477th Bomber Group will be presented with the Congressional Gold Medal in 2007.

Retired Capt. Luther H. Smith, president of the Greater Philadelphia chapter of the Tuskegee Airmen, says although information is trickling in, the news is all good.

“We have no direct information as of right now,” said Smith, of the exact date of the ceremony “but we do know that (President) Bush signed legislation regarding the medal on April 11.

Smith said he had information the ceremony would likely have been in early November around Veterans Day.

A spokesman for the Senate office of Veterans Affairs said he had no information about the ceremony. It is presumed it was pre-empted by the midterm election.

“We have also learned the U.S. Mint is striking a coin in recognition of what we’ve done,” Smith continued. Each Congressional Gold Medal made by the U.S. Mint is unique because there is no standard design.

The Congressional Gold Medal is the highest award that the U.S. Congress can give. The Airmen, according to Smith, would be the largest group to receive the award.

“There were 992 Black men who received their silver wings, identifying them as military aviators,” he said. “Out of those there are about 200 still alive.”

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