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Black History 2012 Special Supplement to The Progress-Index

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  • PI_PROGINDEX/SPECIAL_SECTION/PAGES [T01] | 02/03/12 13:20 | SUPERIMPPB

  • PI_PROGINDEX/SPECIAL_SECTION/PAGES [T02] | 02/03/12 12:06 | SUPERIMPPB

    BY F.M. WIGGINS

    STAFF WRITER

    PETERSBURGAnewmoviein theaters, RedTails, highlightstheWorldWar II exploits of agroup of African-American fighterpilotswho broke racial barrierswhile amassing an impressivecombat record.One of those pilotspart of the

    famedTuskegeeAirmenhailedfromPetersburg.HowardBaugh Sr., who died in

    2008, flew 135 combat airmissionsand logged 250 combat flight hourswith the TuskegeeAirmen overthe skies of WorldWar II Europe.In total, he amassed 6,000 pilothours in 15 different types of air-craft as a TuskegeeAirman.Heretired from themilitary as a lieu-tenant colonel.His son, HowardBaugh Jr., said

    his fatherwould be proud to seethe theatricalmovie RedTails,which opened Jan. 20.Whenmybrother toldme that

    another onewas coming out andGeorge Lucaswas involved, I wasvery excited, the younger Baughsaid.He also noted thatwhile his

    fatherwould be proud to see themajor theatrical release ofthe filmcoincidentallyonwhatwould have beenhis 92nd birthdayhewould likely have somecriticism aswell.After the 1995HBOmov-

    ie, he said that they had putmore drama in it thanwasreally there, the youngerBaugh said. He also saidthat they got some thingswrong, like the fact that allbut one of the instructorswaswhite and that every-body reallywanted to seethem succeed.HowardBaugh Jr.

    doesnt doubt that the latestfilmwill have dramaticlicense, but considers it animportant story for peopleto know.He feels that themovie is an importantmov-ie, not just toAfrican-American history, but all of Amer-ican history.

    What they accomplishedshould be a source of pride for usall, he said.Ironically, the younger Baugh

    didnt fully knowabout his dadsrole, not only as a fighter pilot buta civil rights pioneer, until hewasolder.Dad,was just dad, said the

    younger Baugh. He didnt reallytalk about it awhole lot, so I didntknowhewas a heroother thanthat hewasmyherountil I wasin flight school.The younger Baugh said that he

    was in flight school talking abouthowhewas inspired to fly by his

    father, whowas a fighter pilot dur-ingWorldWar II. Thats when theinstructor asked him if his fatherwas a TuskegeeAirman.Thatwas the first time I heard

    the term, he said.The elder Baughwas born and

    raised in Petersburg and attendedVirginia State CollegenowVir-ginia State University. After gradu-ating from college in 1941, hedecided hewanted to get involvedin thewar effort. He didnt want tobe in the infantry, so he signed upfor theArmyAir Corps, the pre-cursor to themodernU.S. AirForce.Baughwas one of the nearly

    1,000 black pilots to graduate fromTuskegeeArmyAir Field between1940 and 1946. Hewas commis-sioned as a second lieutenant inNovember 1942. Hewas laterassigned to the 99th Fighter Squad-ron in Sicily.It was scary,HowardBaugh

    Sr. said of the combat flying expe-

    rience during a 2004 interview

    withTheProgress-Index. It all

    depended onwhatwewere doing

    as to how scary it was, but it was

    really scarywhenwewere getting

    shot at.

    For his service, the elder Baugh

    was awarded theDistinguished

    FlyingCross, AirMedalwith three

    OakLeaf clusters, Air Force Com-

    mendationMedal, and theAir

    ForceOutstandingUnit award.

    RetiredArmyCol. Porcher Tay-

    lor of Petersburg is amember of

    the TuskegeeAirmen Inc., an

    organization dedicated to preserv-

    ing the history of the Tuskegee

    Airmen.

    According to the organizations

    website, TuskegeeAirmen

    refers to all whowere involved in

    the so-called Tuskegee Experi-

    ment, theArmyAir Corps pro-

    gram to trainAfrican-Americans

    to fly andmaintain combat air-

    craft. The TuskegeeAirmen

    included pilots, navigators, bom-

    bardiers,maintenance and sup-port staff, instructors, and all thepersonnelwho kept the planes inthe air.Segregationwas rampant in

    those days, Taylor said.Taylorwas part of the Tuskeg-

    ee Experiment, attending theAla-bama institute and participatingin theReserveOfficer TrainingCorps program. Tuskegee reacheduniversity status in 1985.Blacks had to prove them-

    selves, Taylor said. He explainedthat is how the Tuskegee Experi-ment came about.Taylor recounted thatHoward

    Baugh Sr. is creditedwith shootingdown one and a half enemyplanes.You got a half a plane if you

    helped a buddy shoot one down,Taylor explained. He added thatBaughs friends suspect hemayhave shot downmore than oneFockeWulf 190, one of themost

    Red Tails tells the story of first black fighter squadron

    CONTRIBUTED PHOTOS/BAUGH FAMILY COLLECTION

    In this photo from the Baugh family album, retired U.S Army Corps Lt. Col. Howard Baugh Sr. sits in

    the cockpit of a P-40 Warhawk.

    Howard Baugh Sr., one of the

    Army Air Corps famed Tuskegee

    Airmen who fought during World

    War II, is shown as a young sec-

    ond lieutenant, left, and as a

    major, right, in the ArmyAir Corps.

    He retired from the military as a

    lieutenant colonel.

    Dad was just dad. Hedidnt really talk

    about it a whole lot,so I didnt know hewas a hero otherthan that he was myhero until I was in

    flight school.

    Howard Baugh Jr., son of Tuskegee

    Airman Howard Baugh Sr.

    Please see RED TAILS, Page 3

    T2 Sunday, February 5, 2012 The Progress-Index, Petersburg, VA

  • PI_PROGINDEX/SPECIAL_SECTION/PAGES [T03] | 02/03/12 13:21 | SUPERIMPPB

    infamousWorldWar II German fighter air-craft.Pressure from black media outlets of

    the time and first lady Eleanor Rooseveltled to the pilot training program. WhileTuskegee wasnt the only location to offerthe program, according to Taylor, withother universities, including HamptonUniversity, participating, it was themain one.Eventually, 992 cadetswould earn their

    wings through the programand anotherseveral thousand youngmenwould receivethe necessary training to serve as groundcrew for the planes.The black pilots flew aircraft including

    the P-51Mustang, P-47 Thunderbolt, P-39Airacobra and P-38 Lightning.To bemore easily identified as friendly

    fighters, the tails of the units planeswerepainted red.They earned the nickname the red

    tails, Taylor said. That unique identifiercarries over into the organization dedicat-ed to the history of the history-making avi-ators.Members of the TuskegeeAirmen

    Inc. wear red blazers at events.

    The younger Baugh said that after he

    retired fromUnitedAirlines as a pilot in

    2001, he started goingwith his father to var-

    ious eventswhere the elder Baughwould

    speak.

    He reallywas all about education and

    fighting discrimination, the younger

    Baugh said. That included discrimination

    against allminorities, includingwomen

    and homosexuals, he noted.

    David Baugh, another of the elder

    Baughs sons, said that his father told him

    one time that if he could get up, put his

    gear on andmake it to the planewithout

    throwing up, Hed beOK.

    REDTAILSContinued from Page 2

    LUCASFILM/MCT

    Above from left: Leslie Odom Jr., Michael B. Jordan, Nate Parker, Kevin Phillips, David

    Oyelowo and Elijah Kelley portray some of the heroic Tuskegee Airmen in a scene from

    the Lucasfilm action film Red Tails, which debuted in theaters Jan. 20.

    PATRICK KANE/PROGRESS-INDEX PHOTO

    Howard Baugh Jr., front, and David Baugh talk about their father, one of the famed

    Tuskegee Airmen, Howard Baugh Sr. Members of Petersburg-based Howard Baugh

    Chapter of the Tuskegee Airmen Inc. are excited about the release of Red Tails,

    a movie about the African-American World War II pilots.

    Bookkeeping & Tax ServiceServing Tri-Cities, Richmond and Surrounding Areas since 1983

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    gunnstaxservice.comOffice (804) 733-1428 Fax (804) 733-1032

    Email: gunnstaxserv@aol.comThe Progress-Index, Petersburg, VA Sunday, February 5, 2012 T3

  • PI_PROGINDEX/SPECIAL_SECTION/PAGES [T04] | 02/03/12 12:06 | SUPERIMPPB

    I was Martins alter ego

    BY MARKUS SCHMIDT

    STAFF WRITER

    PETERSBURGTheRev.Wyatt TeeWalker has spentmostof his life in the shadow of CivilRights iconDr.Martin LutherKing Jr. ButWalkers influence onthemovement can not be underes-timated. Throughout the 1960s,Walker served asKings chief ofstaff and used Petersburg as ablueprint for amovement thatwould take the nation by storm.Americawould never be the sameagain.Somuch of hiswisdomhas

    made us a better nation and a bet-ter people and a betterworld,Walker said lastmonth at aMar-tin LutherKingDay celebration atFirst Baptist Church onHarrisonStreet.Walker, aMassachusetts native,

    came to Petersburg in themid-1950s to accept theministry atGillfield Baptist Church the sec-ond oldest black congregation inthe city and one of the oldest inthe country.

    Light-skinned, 6-feet tall, with

    horn-framed glasses and a thick

    mustache,Walkerwas amanwho

    was an aggressive debater and

    even a bit egocentric, according to

    friends. He had a degree in chem-

    istry and a divinity degree from

    VirginiaUnionUniversity in

    Richmond,where he had firstmet

    Dr.Martin LutherKing Jr. in 1952.

    The two aspiring preachers stayed

    in touch.Both of us were the sons of

    preachers, and both of us wantedto become preachers, Walkersaid in a previous interview with

    The Progress-Index.FromAtlanta, King followed

    Walkers efforts to desegregatepublic schools here. Impressedwith the success and effi-ciency of the local civilrightsmovement, Kingrecruited its keyme