A new monument to the Tuskegee Airmen, a group of Black pilots who shot down dozens of enemy fighters during World War II while battling bigotry and racism on and off airfields, was dedicated on Memorial Day — the result of a gift from an anonymous donor.
Located at the entrance to the main terminal at the Coleman A. Young International Airport (the city’s late mayor was part of the Detroit 100th Composite Squadron of the Tuskegee Airmen), the monument of four pilots, cast in bronze, was created from a photo taken in 1942 in which the fighters — Capt. Wendell O. Pruitt and Lts. Andrew Maples, John A. Gipson, and Milton Hall — were walking off the flight line on Morton Field in Tuskegee, Ala., where the men trained.
“The Tuskegee Airmen actually fought two battles during the war — the enemy, and racism from the military and the public at large,” says Beverly Kindle-Walker, executive director of the Friends of Detroit City Airport, a quasi-public development agency established by Mayor Young in 1990. “For everyone who visits the airport, including our youth who participate in Detroit Aero Club, Airport 101, and Detroit Fly Girls, the statue is a symbol of the sacrifice the Tuskegee Airmen made in keeping America and the free world safe.”
To help support the youth programs, the Friends of Detroit City Airport is selling sponsorships and brick pavers that will surround the monument. Donations range from $5,000 for a diamond sponsorship to $5 for young people. A brick paver runs between $100 and $200, based on the number of letters in a name or phrase. For more information, visit friendsofdca.org.