Tuskegee Airmen historic site expansion dedicated
TUSKEGEE, Ala. (February 17, 2014) – The university joined the National Park Service and the community in welcoming the last addition to Moton Field. On Saturday, a dedication ceremony was held to commemorate the completion of Hangar 2 at the Tuskegee Airmen National Historic Site at Moton Field. According to the NPS, the event marked the end of eight years of historical preservation and restoration work of the hangar. The hangar was originally built in 1944 to support flight operations for the airmen, America’s first black fighter pilots.
Sandra L. Taylor, site superintendent
“Today and tomorrow, we celebrate these champions of progress,” said Sandra L. Taylor, superintendent of the site.
The renovated hangar is now a modern interactive museum complete with 3D artifacts, artwork, planes, and filmed oral histories of airmen, and a theater. Nearby, the Skyway Club replicates where the airmen relaxed. It has been restored and includes photo exhibits and period furniture.
Tuskegee University Acting President, Dr. Matthew Jenkins, was a guest speaker at the ceremony. He spent two years in the U.S. Air Force and two of his brothers were Tuskegee Airmen. He said the airmen were protectors whose skill overshadowed the rampant racism of the time.
“They were the best,” Jenkins said. “When someone is protecting your life, you forget about your prejudices and everything else.”
Links to the legacy
Retired Col. Lou Jenkins, one of the acting president’s brothers, was among the many airmen in attendance for the dedication. He attended Tuskegee and has been to the historic airmen site many times.
“It’s outstanding and it looks good,” Lou Jenkins said about the site.
Lou Jenkins spent 28 years in the Air Force and completed 53 combat missions. He said he was inspired to be an airman while he was growing up in South Alabama.
“Before church, we used to see them overhead flying to the gulf. After they got out of sight it was time to go to church,” Lou Jenkins said. “I said, ‘I am going to be one of those guys.’ ”
Taylor said the dedication ceremony was a collective effort and that Tuskegee is a “community of service.” Among the volunteers were several students from the university and city. The Tuskegee University Golden Voices Choir provided entertainment and the Air Force ROTC Color Guard presented the flags during the ceremony. Lt. Col. Edwin “Dex” McCain, commander of the Air Force ROTC, said the event was an excellent opportunity to show his cadets the real application of the theories they learn in the classroom.
“This interaction has been tremendous,” McCain said. “We always try to link the legacy of the Tuskegee Airmen with the new generation of Tuskegee Airmen.”
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