If you weren’t already aware of the history surrounding the Tuskegee Airmen, chances are you might have a better idea thanks to the release of Red Tails, the motion picture that hit the big screens on January 20, 2012. “Tuskegee Airmen” refers to the African American pilots who fought in World War II. Officially, they formed the 332nd Fighter Group and the 477th Bombardment Group of the US Army Air Corps.
They came to be known as “Red Tails” because they painted the tails of their planes red to distinguish their flying unit. (For more information visit www.redtail.org)
This group of brave soldiers had to overcome intense obstacles during a time when racial discrimination toward African Americans was rampant. Despite adversity, they served with distinction, proving to be assets to the Allies and equals to their Anglo-Saxon counterparts.
Born February 9th, 1919, First Lieutenant Robert Martin was around the 300th graduate of the Civilian Pilot Training Program. Although Robert had already earned a degree in electrical engineering, he volunteered for the Corps because, as he said, “I do not consider myself a hero. My country was attacked and I did what I needed to do to defend it. I don’t know where my ancestors are from – my only allegiance is to the US.”
After graduating from flight school in 1944, he was sent to Detroit for combat training, and was sent overseas to fight in the war within six months. Based out of Italy, Robert flew 64 missions until he was shot down while conducting a mission over a German airfield in Yugoslavia. Fortunately, he was able to reach a rescue mission for downed airmen, where he spent five weeks before returning back to Italy.
Since he had spent so much time in enemy territory, the US Army believed that German soldiers would consider Robert a spy. Since his capture would have likely meant his death, he was sent back to the US where he finished his service by preparing other airmen.
Wesley Place is honored to have helped Lieutenant Martin recover from his recent hip replacement surgery. Thank you for your service, Lieutenant Martin!
“I am very pleased with the service I received here,” said Lieutenant Martin. “I couldn’t put any weight on my right leg before and now I can walk. They brought me from someone who was bed-ridden to someone who can have a normal life again. Thank you Wesley Place.”