Tuskegee Airmen’s local contributions gain recognition

The contributions of Tuskegee Airmen who served in Columbus and Seymour in the World War II era and helped to racially integrate the US Armed Forces is coming into clearer view, including with their induction into the Indiana Aviation Hall of Fame.

Last year, Tuskegee Airman Col. Charles Henry DeBow, Jr. of Indianapolis was posthumously elected as a member of the Indiana Aviation Hall of Fame Class of 2021. According to the hall, Debow secured his place in aviation history when he became just one of four Black pilots — of the original 13 black cadet aviation candidates — to earn his wings as a Tuskegee Airman.

He served with distinction as a combat pilot in the European Theater, logging 52 combat missions. After serving honorably in the European Theater, DeBow returned to Tuskegee Army Air Field as a decorated combat veteran to prepare the next generation of Black airmen for combat.

After World War II, DeBow continued in the Air Force Reserve stationed at Atterbury Bakalar Air Force Base in Columbus, the hall said. He remained in the Air Force Reserve for the 20 years.

The hall also announced last month that another Tuskegee Airman, Maj. Charles Hall, will be inducted in October. Besides his pioneering military flying career, Hall was the First Tuskegee Airman to down an enemy aircraft in WWII, according to the Indiana Aviation Hall of Fame. A native of Brazil, Indiana, Hall died in 1971 at age 51.

Additionally, Leadership Jackson County announced earlier this week another recognition of the contributions of Tuskegee Airmen will take place in October in Seymour. The week of Oct. 3 to 8 at Freeman Municipal Airport, activities are planned leading up to the commemoration and unveiling of two Tuskegee Airmen statues at the memorial plaza near the airport terminal.