Photo Gallery | "Red Tail Squadron" on the ground at NCTM
SPENCER - For years they were largely ignored by the history books, but a pioneering group of airmen from World War Two is now getting much of the attention and respect they deserve.
George Lucas released a major motion picture recently called Red Tails, documenting the story of the Tuskegee Airmen.
On Wednesday, with family members present, a special traveling exhibit opened at the North Carolina Transportation Museum in Spencer paying tribute to the Red Tail Squadron. Vernon Robinson was there Wednesday. His fahter and two uncles were part of the famed Tuskegee Airmen, but Robinson didn't realize how significant that was until he was in the Air Force Academy in the 1970's. "I knew they were in the Army Air Corps," Robinson told WBTV. "They didn't talk about, I didn't learn about the Tuskegee Airmen until I was at the academy. I did not understand that this was a big deal, as it was, and helped to pave the way for integration in 1948."
It's the true story of the Red Tails, told in a film called Rise Above. It's part of a traveling exhibition, now on display through Saturday at the North Carolina Transportation Museum in Spencer. Eleanor Qadirah worked to bring together sponsors to land the exhibit here through Saturday, and she was one of the first to see the movie. "It's my first time flying," Qadirah joked, referring to the pilot's perspective that is shown through parts of the film. "I really felt like I was flying that plane."
The film tells the story of the Red Tails heroic missions in Europe and sad rejection on the homefront when the war was over. It introduces the legendary figures to new generations and chronicles their contribution to victory. "For the kids coming up now they get to learn that we did participate in the war besides being cooks and scrubbing decks," said combat veteran Gary B. Hall. "We feel as though the Red Tails inspired us to do what we do and that is fight for democracy and freedom," added American Legion Commander May Carroll. "This particular story is not just Black History story, I think, it's very inspiring, anyone who attends will see that," Qadirah added.
The Red Tail Squadron exhibit will be on display at the North Carolina Transportation Museum in Spencer through Saturday. There is no admission charge for the exhibit.