At its Stated Meeting on Thursday, November 14, 2013, the Council approved a bill, co-sponsored by Council Member Oliver Koppell, to permanently change the name of “South Road,” between Merrick Boulevard and Remington Street in Queens, to Tuskegee Airmen Way and to amend the New York City Map accordingly.
The Tuskegee Airmen were African-American pilots who fought in World War 11 and were the first African-American military aviators in the United States Armed Forces. In total, 996 pilots were trained at Tuskegee Army Air Field in Tuskegee, Alabama from 1941 to 1945 with approximately 445 men deployed overseas.
The Tuskegee Airmen, who were known as Red Tails because of the distinctive red paint predominately applied on the tail section of their aircrafts, had an impressive combat record. They were credited with 15,533 combat sorties and 1478 missions flown. 150 Tuskegee Airmen, including 66 pilots, lost their lives in accidents or combat, and 32 fell into captivity as prisoners of war. They received numerous awards and decorations for valor and performance, including the Congressional Gold Medal in 2007.
Koppell said, “Not only have the Tuskegee Airmen been recognized for their bravery, they have also been recognized for helping spur the desegregation of the United States Military and their contributions during the Civil Rights movement.”
Surviving members still take part in educating and inspiring youth at the Queens Library Center in Jamaica and at York College. In 2009, York College opened an exhibition consisting of photographs, a replica of the Congressional Gold medal, a replica of the P-51 Mustang with its distinctive “Red Tail” and a life-sized statue of a Tuskegee Airman.
“I feel privileged to have as a constituent Dr. Roscoe C. Brown, a Tuskegee Airman and former President of Bronx Community College. He is someone of whom I have always been very proud and I am pleased that the Council has voted to acknowledge his service and that of his fellow airmen by naming a street in their honor,” Koppell said.