DENVER (KDVR) – The last living Tuskegee Airman in Colorado had his oral history recorded at Wings Over the Rockies Air and Space Museum.
During World War II, the group flew for the 99th Fighter Squadron in the 332nd Fighter Group. In 1973, they started calling themselves Tuskegee Airmen.
The aviation museum was a fitting place for the interview with Col. James H. Harvey.
Harvey’s journey of flight started out as a fighter pilot.
“But before that, I don’t know what they called us, but I can guess,” said Harvey as he chuckled a bit.
World War II ended before Harvey saw action, but there was Korea.
“Between the 25th of September and 25th of December, I flew 126 missions,” said Harvey.
He was the first Black pilot to fly a jet in Korea.
“Why stand still or go backwards? I said F-80!” he said.
For his actions, he was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross. What was his reaction to being awarded that? “Thank you.”
Harvey has a keen sense of humor that he says has helped him through difficult times in his life, like when he was part of the first aircrew to win the very first Top Gun award in 1949. Harvey and his crew saw the trophy one time.
“In print we were never recognized as the winner of the ‘49 weapons meet, for 46 years,” said Harvey.
After research by a historian, the truth finally surfaced.
“As of April 1995, it shows the 332nd Fighter Group as the winner of the 1949 weapons meet — 46 years, they knew who won they just didn’t want to recognize us as the winner,” Harvey said.
Fighting for the United States in a segregated and then desegregated military was a bittersweet experience.
Harvey made a “V” sign with his fingers.
“Double victory, fighting the enemy overseas and fighting it back here in the States,” he said.