Tuskegee Airmen recognized with Top Gun honor 73 years after winning

Tuskegee Airmen recognized with Top Gun honor 73 years after winning

U.S. Air Force, Tuskegee Airmen

1/21/2022 6:40:00 AM

Tuskegee Airmen recognized with Top Gun honor 73 years after winning

The all-Black group of military pilots won the first Top Gun competition, but weren't recognized for it until recently.

Members of the Tuskegee Airmen are some of the most highly decorated military pilots in U.S. history. But there was one honor that was overlooked for more than 70 years — until now. In 1949, a team from the famed all-Black Tuskegee Airmen won the first Top Gun contest, a gunnery competition among pilots from across the Air Force. But the record book listed the winner as"unknown." 

"They knew who won, but they just didn't want to recognize us," said Retired Lieutenant Colonel James Harvey, a 98-year-old former fighter pilot who was part of that winning team. Harvey said the trophy"mysteriously got lost" — until 2005, when a historian found it in storage at an Air Force museum. 

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I guess this won’t be taught in Florida schools since it might offend some racist white students. I'm here to show my appreciation to TarellaCampbel who took me out from zero to hero. I'm so glad to be among your winning team ma'am and I will always show my gratitude and work with you always.

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01:41 Members of the Tuskegee Airmen are some of the most highly decorated military pilots in U.S. history. But there was one honor that was overlooked for more than 70 years — until now.  In 1949, a team from the famed all-Black Tuskegee Airmen won the first Top Gun contest, a gunnery competition among pilots from across the Air Force. But the record book listed the winner as"unknown."  "They knew who won, but they just didn't want to recognize us," said Retired Lieutenant Colonel James Harvey, a 98-year-old former fighter pilot who was part of that winning team.  Harvey said the trophy"mysteriously got lost" — until 2005, when a historian found it in storage at an Air Force museum.  "She says, 'Why isn't this on display?'  The guy said, 'We can't display everything, but this item will never be on display,'" Harvey said.  The trophy is now on display, and last week a plaque commemorating the first Top Guns was unveiled at Nellis Air Force Base in Nevada, where the original competition was held.  Harvey said the recognition"means an awful lot."  "We proved that we were the best," he said."Well OK, let's show it."  CBS Village