CLEVELAND (WJW) – They blazed the trail, many still follow and now the legacy of the Tuskegee Airmen is permanently honored with a new plaque at Hopkins International Airport.
The images of American pioneers and heroes are coming to life in a new a display on the first floor near the welcome center showcasing the Tuskegee Airmen and women, America’s first black military aviators.
“Her legacy continues and her work is honored and we are thrilled, my mother would be thrilled,” said Dianne McIntyre.
The memorial is personal for sisters Donna Whyte and McIntyre, their mother Dorothy Layne McIntyre is pictured for making history of her own.
“It’s a great honor because our mother was a pioneer aviator, she started flying in the 1930s, got her private pilot’s license in 1940. So, she was one of the early women and one of the very first African American women. She flew with the man who became Tuskegee Airmen,” said McIntyre.
A goal of this memorial to the Tuskegee Airmen and women is to inspire a new generation by showing them they have a rich history in aviation and military service.
Walking in their footsteps are two budding aviators from Davis Aerospace & Maritime High School.
“I was 16 when I received my solo pilots license,” said Sydney-Marie Flowers. “I was actually able to receive my solo pilots license from Moton Field in Tuskegee, Alabama where the Tuskegee airmen first took their training.”
Graduating senior Laila Graham helped design the plaque based on images from her family’s scrap book filled with newspaper clippings of African-American military history.
“I did the original drawings that’s at the top of it that we then digitized and laser cut,” said Graham.
Drew Ferguson the President and CEO of Phastar a local non-profit that helped to create the Davis Aerospace & Maritime High School said it’s important to continue to tell the story of the men and women students can be inspired by.
“As a Tuskegee Airmen start to die off I mean were talking about a unit that was started in 1941 that story needs to continue to be told it can’t die off into the past,” said Ferguson.
Original Documented member and decorated Tuskegee Airmen Asa Newman who served during WWII recently died at the age of 102 according to his nephew Maurice Newman. The city of Aurora declared his birthday “Asa Newman Day” last year during a patriotic drive-by parade.
His fight and that of his brothers’ and sisters who paved the way continues to be remembered with the new display and forever in the hearts of loved ones.
“…Just the location of this exhibit is just so meaningful it will offer people an education when they don’t even expect it and we’re so pleased to know that our mother is part of this exhibit,” said Donna Whyte.
The plaque was commissioned by Mayor Frank Jackson and co-sponsored by the North Coast Chapter of Tuskegee Airmen and Phastar Corporation.