Tuskegee Airmen honored at Air Force Academy

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COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. -- They were called the Tuskegee Airmen. These World War II Army Air Corps pilots were unique. Not because of where they trained, Tuskegee, Ala., but who they were.

"I tried to enlist, but they said they weren't taking enlistments. So I was drafted three months later," James H. Harvey III said.

Harvey wound up in the Air Corps, but was driving plows, not planes.

"Our mission was to go in the jungle, 'doze out an area, build an airfield," he said.

Harvey decided to boldly go where no black man had gone before: Pilot training.

"They said we didn't have the ability to fly aircraft or operate heavy machinery. [They thought] we were inferior to the white man, we were nothing," Harvey said.

They' were wrong. Harvey not only became a fighter pilot, but was a top gun in the now famous 99th Fighter Squadron.

On Tuesday, Harvey and other men who flew the P-40's, P-47's and P-51's, the red tail angels, were honored at the U.S. Air Force Academy.

Harvey retired from the Air Force a lieutenant colonel.

Being honored at the Academy, not for the way the Tuskegee Airmen looked, but how they flew, is how he wants them to be remembered.

"I would like to be remembered as the best in the Army Air Corps and the best in the United States Air Force," he said.

Their planes are grounded now, but their spirits have never been higher.

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