Congressman Keith Rothfus

Representing the 12th District of Pennsylvania

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Rothfus Honors Western Pennsylvania Tuskegee Airmen

Sep 16, 2013
Press Release

Ross Township, PA – Congressman Keith Rothfus [PA-12] yesterday joined hundreds of Western Pennsylvanians at the Sewickley Cemetery in Sewickley, Pennsylvania for the unveiling of the nation’s largest outdoor memorial honoring the Tuskegee Airmen.  The Tuskegee Airmen, a group of African-American flight instructors, pilots, bombardiers, navigators, and flight-line personnel, served their nation with bravery, honor, and distinction during World War II.

Honoring the Tuskegee Airmen from Western Pennsylvania

Mr. Speaker, we rise to pay special tribute to the Tuskegee Airmen, a group of African American servicemembers who served our nation honorably and with distinction in World War II.  In recognition of their service and sacrifice, the Tuskegee Airmen were awarded the Congressional Gold Medal on March 29, 2007.  Although the Airmen are now well known for their wartime accomplishments, their feats of heroism went unheralded for decades.

Western Pennsylvania produced more Tuskegee Airmen than any other region in the United States.  Hailing from cities and towns across Western Pennsylvania, including places like Erie, Aliquippa, Washington, Pittsburgh and Johnstown, ninety-five men and one woman served as flight instructors, pilots, bombardiers, navigators, and flight-line personnel.

They and their fellow Airmen served in the 332nd Fighter Group, which was based at the Tuskegee Army Air Field in Tuskegee, Alabama.

By the end of the war, the Airmen flew more than 1,500 missions and 15,500 sorties in North Africa, continental Europe, and Sicily.  The Fighter Group shot down 112 enemy aircraft, destroyed 150 planes on the ground, and boasted one of the most successful escort records in the military.

Western Pennsylvanians contributed honorably to this legacy. 

Lieutenant Robert Johnson, an honors graduate of Schenley High School in Pittsburgh, was the youngest Tuskegee pilot commissioned in the Army Air Corps. 

Lieutenants Elmer Taylor and James Wright of Pittsburgh and Carl Woods of Mars were killed in action. 

Lieutenant Cornelius Gould, a graduate of Westinghouse High School in Pittsburgh, was shot down, captured, and held as a prisoner of war. 

Lieutenant Calvin Smith of Aliquippa stood against discrimination when a group of African American officers were denied entry into an officers’ club at Freeman Field. 

Rosa Alford, the lone female from Western Pennsylvania, returned after serving honorably during the war to give back to her community, as a counselor at New Brighton High School in Beaver County.

On September 15, 2013, the country’s largest outdoor memorial for the Tuskegee Airmen will be dedicated in Sewickley, Pennsylvania.  This memorial will serve as fitting tribute to these individuals and all Tuskegee Airmen who served the United States with bravery, honor and distinction.  They exemplify the very best our Commonwealth and nation have to offer.  Amidst hardship and discrimination, the Airmen rose to the challenge and answered the call to service. 

We are proud of these Western Pennsylvanians and honored to recognize them today.