Military personnel are seldom surprised or starstruck. But that’s exactly what some of the men and women at the U.S. Southern Command in Doral were after meeting World War II and Tuskegee Airmen veteran and educator Dr. Harold Brown.
Brown was invited by the Miami-Homestead Air Force Association chapter and presented awards to four local aviators for their outstanding performance in 2017 at a special event at the Southern Command on Thursday.
Eric Jones, one of the honorees, was moved by the opportunity to meet one of the legendary Tuskegee Airmen, the first African-American fighter and bomber pilots to serve in the military. The creation of this group helped pave the way to eventual desegregation of the U.S. armed forces in 1948.
“Them serving a country in a time before the Civil Rights Act -- it’s inspiring being a black male to see someone who, against all adversity, stepped up and still served this country and protected us and our nation,” said Jones.
Another World War II airman veteran, Stuart Newman, highlighted the bravery of the Tuskegee Airmen. “These guys were fearless. My take on it is that a lot of them were trying to make a point,” he said.
Dr. Brown joked that all these honorary events are getting a little tiresome. However, as part of the Commemorative Air Force Red Tail Squadron, an outreach program that presents the history of the Tuskegee Airmen, he has been able to impart the guiding principles of the Tuskegee Airmen to young men and women nationwide.
“You can do anything you want to do. These [principles] will really keep you going. Aim high, work hard, never give up," said Brown.