TRAVIS AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. – It is known as The Gateway to the Pacific. The place in reference is Travis Air Force Base, in Solano County.
The base is honoring the military’s first black pilots during recognition events for Black History Month. The base launched a KC-10 aircraft, manned by an all-black crew.
It is being called a ‘heritage flight’ to recognize the famed Tuskegee Airmen; the all black flight squadron who flew missions in the 1940s and during World War II, at a time when segregation was a daily reality and many African American military members faced discrimination at home in the United States, despite service to their country.
Travis Air Force Base representatives said the event is a recognition and display of the diversity of its ranks. The president of the Fairfield Tuskegee Airmen Chapter, said the recognition is welcome and overdue.
“For too many years, we have been relegated to certain positions; remedial things and I think it's good to let everybody know that we can do everything and everything,” explains Nathaniel Clayton.
A spokesperson for Travis Air Force Base said this flight is not an annual tradition yet, but the administration is now considering making it one.
Action News Now Morning Anchor Julia Yarbough, whose father served in the US Air Force and grew up at Travis Air Force Base, shared with viewers her personal experience of meeting two members of the Tuskegee Airmen team.
In 2012, during an event recognizing Black History Month, she met Lt. Colonel Leo Gray and Judge Richard B. Rutledge. Both men were original members of the famed Tuskegee Airmen. Lt. Colonel Gray passed away in 2016 at the age of 92.