Orlando Science Center unveils Tuskegee Airmen monument

12-foot spire features inspirational message

By Sheli Muniz - Reporter

ORLANDO, Fla. - The Orlando Science Center held a Veterans Day event to unveil a new monument to the Tuskegee Airmen Red Tail Pilots on Monday.

"It's been a long time coming," said Tuskegee Airman Captain Bruce Bennett.

The World War II veterans have quite the story to tell. The men were some of the first African American military pilots. Because of Jim Crow laws, black soldiers weren't ever allowed to become pilots, Tuskegee Airmen were the first, training in Tuskegee Alabama.

A group of them were the Red Tail Pilots.

When Captain Bennett served, he says he was just a young boy.

"Even though there were things going on around me and restrictions that I couldn't, I had difficulty with, I had to keep my mind on what I was there for and that was aviation," he said.

Tuskegee Airmen had had monuments but the Red Tail Pilots had never.

"This statue commemorates their remarkable achievement and sacrifice," Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer said.

So, on this Veterans Day, 86-year-old Captain Bennett says he has seen it all come full circle.

The monument not only honors Red Tail Pilots but they hope it serves as a cataylst, to inspire younger generations.

Known for the signature red-tailed P-51 Mustang planes they flew during World War II, the airmen were honored with a 12-foot spire that features an inspirational message.

There were more than 900 pilots trained at Tuskegee, Ala., of whom 356 airmen were considered an elite group of fighter pilots that were sent to various bases in Europe

In honor of the airmen, the center will also hold a screening of "Red Tails," the 2012 film which portrayed them.

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