75th Anniversary of the Tuskegee Experience
When the Colorado chapter of the Tuskegee Airmen was activated in 1972 after a series of meetings in the home of Warren and Mary Alexander it was difficult to tell whether the chapter would thrive based on its historic background, the honor of its funding members or its distinguished legacy in the field of aviation. As is turns out, its success has been rooted in all three.
The Hubert L. “Hooks” Jones (HLHJ) Chapter of Tuskegee Airmen, Inc. (TAI) is celebrating 75 years of the “Tuskegee Experience on Friday June 24, 2016, and Forest City (now Brookfield Properties) Stapleton will be a proud sponsor of this prestigious event.
In honor of this Diamond Anniversary, the evening’s program, “Giving History a Future,” will recognize the major milestone in Air Force history by honoring the five remaining Colorado Documented Original Tuskegee Airmen (DOTA) as well as the four 2016 scholarship awardees.
DOTAs in attendance:
- Colonel James Randall
- Lt. Colonel Marion Rodgers – Last Commander of the 99th Pursuit Squadron
- Lt. Colonel James Harvey III- Winner of the First Air Force “Top Gun” Competition
- Lt. Frank Macon
- Aviation Cadet Randolph Edwards
“Our newly formed partnership with Forest City (now Brookfield Properties) Stapleton is one that we’re incredibly proud of,” says 1st Vice President and Scholarship Committee Chair Vorry Moon. “Their sponsorship of this event signals their support of our mission, their commitment to students, and their reverence for our DOTAs – past and present.”
Five of Colorado’s original 19 members are still with us today with the youngest at age 89, and the oldest at 95.
The evening’s keynote will be 9News Reporter Amelia Earhart. Earhart recently returned to Denver and KUSA, after departing in 2014 to complete her lifelong goal of recreating her namesake’s monumental flight around the world. Since returning to Denver, Amelia has mentored Kamia Bradley, one of the HLHJ chapter’s past Mile High Flight Scholarship recipients. Bradley is a 17-year-old aspiring pilot who moved in with extended family members after she and her mother became homeless. With support from the HLHJ chapter and the Mile High Flight program and The Earhart Foundation, she is now taking flying lessons and pursuing her dreams.
The HLHJ Chapter has awarded more than $50,000 worth of scholarships to Colorado’s deserving students over the last decade. Scholarships are awarded regardless of gender or ethnicity. A total of four students will receive a total of seven need-based scholarships this year.
“Forest City’s (now Brookfield Properties) sponsorship will provide a scholarship to at least one student this year, which is a huge benefit to that student and his or her family,” Mr. Moon continued. “It’s incredible and we are so grateful.”
The event will be held at the Event Center at the Fritz Knoebel School of Hospitality Management, 2044 East Evans Avenue on the University of Denver’s Campus. 9NEWS anchor/reporter TaRhonda Thomas will be the evening’s mistress of ceremonies.
“We’re so pleased to have formed this alliance with such a revered organization,” says Forest City (now Brookfield Properties) Marketing Director Tasha Jones. “Its rich history and commitment to passing this legacy on to the next generation is nothing short of inspiring. We’re excited to play a role in that in any way we can.”
Support of the chapter includes the maintenance of the organization’s Mile High Flight program, which orients students to the various opportunities in the STEM related fields, including aviation.
“We get tremendous joy out of taking these students on their first flight – some of whom have never been on an airplane before,” says Moon. “The look in their eyes when they land says it all. They’re forever changed.”
It is that look – that spark of passion and wide-eyed amazement that drives the chapter to reach these students.
“Our biggest goal is to encourage kids to develop their own individual flight plans for their lives,” Moon says. “That’s what our founding members did, and it’s a valuable philosophy of life to this day.”
The Tuskegee Airmen were African-Americans who, at a time of racial segregation in the military, answered the call to arms and trained in Tuskegee, AL. By the end of the war, 992 men had graduated from pilot training, and 450 of them were sent to combat.