January 20, 2012 saw the premiere of Red Tails, a film highlighting the challenging and heroic efforts of the Tuskegee Airmen, a group of African American United States Army Air Force (USAAF) servicemen during World War II. The film is about a crew of African American pilots in the Tuskegee training program who, having faced segregation while kept mostly on the ground during World War II, are called into duty.
The Tuskegee Airmen, who numbered close to 1,000, were the first group of African-American fighter pilots in the United States and the only group of African-American fighter pilots in World War II. Their bravery led President Harry S. Truman to order the desegregation of the U.S. military in 1948.
Dr. Dempsey Morgan, 91, a Baha’i from Virginia, was a member of the Tuskegee Airmen and was among 300 fellow officers, who were presented with a replica of the Congressional Gold Medal of Honor from President George W. Bush at the Capitol Rotunda in 2007. (See related article from USA TODAY).
Ulysses Moore, currently residing in San Francisco, CA, Frank R. Raymond, from Martinville, LA (died 1991) and Myron Wilson, from Danville, Ill., (died 2001) were also Tuskegee Airmen to become Baha’is. After experiencing racial slights, Mr. Wilson dejectedly left the military, but found the Baha’i Faith, which his son, Myron A. Wilson, a Baha’i in Aurora, Colo, says helped “start the healing process. He went to his grave healed.”
All four men were illustrious fighter pilots. Dr. Morgan flew 181 combat missions and received 13 decorations. Mr. Wilson downed two German jet fighters, but, sadly, wasn’t accorded recognition. “Instead, the credit went to white pilots,” says Wilson’s son. “The Air Force said it needed footage of Mr. Wilson and his buddies flying the plane, something they couldn’t provide.”
However, Wilson’s son recently noted an interesting development associated with the debut of the new movie. “It appears that a Red Tails calendar has been released highlighting images of Tuskegee Airmen. My father’s Tuskegee graduation photo has been included on the month of June. In addition, the official United States Air Force archive photo that depicts the images of four Tuskegee Airmen walking away from their P-51 fighter planes on the tarmac…..the individual to the far right is my father!” he notes.
Dr. Morgan is currently in the Virginia Veterans Care Center and Adrienne Morgan, his wife, shared that the staff of the hospital took some of the patients, including her husband, to the movie theatre to see Red Tails. She said that Dr. Morgan was very pleased with the movie and said it was more authentic than a previous movie he had seen about the Airmen.
Adrian McKee, a Bahai from Glen Ellyn Ill., took his sons to see Red Tails as soon as it came out. He had a special interest in seeing it because he discovered in 2002 that his uncle was a fighter mechanic during WWII and supported the Tuskegee Airmen. “One day I was doing a random search on his name and one of the items that came up was a book about the Tuskegee Airmen. It has the roster of the 99th and 332nd Fighter Groups,” he shared.
If you know of other Baha’is who also served as Tuskegee Airmen, please contact the Office of Communications at 847-733-3552 or firstname.lastname@example.org, so they can be added to this story.
- For Tuskegee Airman, the Baha’i Faith healed the wounds of racism
- Honored Tuskegee Airmen include two Baha’is