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Illustrated book portrays the heroic exploits of the Tuskegee Airmen
12/21/2013 8:54:08 PM

WATERBURY, Conn. - The international story of progress of the men and women of Morton Field, also known as the Tuskegee Army Airfield, and their triumph over adversity has been largely unsung and under-portrayed in mainstream popular culture. These brave souls fought to defend their country, even as they faced discrimination and inequality, and in her new book, author Louise Chessi McKinney honors them and takes readers "Flying into History" to learn of their wartime exploits with the illustrated pages of her work.

The Tuskegee Airmen were America's first black military airmen. They came from cities and towns all across America to train at Tuskegee Army Airfield (TAAF) in Tuskegee, Ala. From 1941 until 1946, over 2000 African-Americans completed training at Tuskegee University and nearly three quarters of them qualified to become pilots, while the others were trained as support personnel or navigators. There were originally four fighter squadrons in the all African-American 332nd Fighter Group. The 99th Fighter Squadron was activated in May 1942. There were also the 100th, the 301st, and the 302nd squadrons, all under the command of Colonel Benjamin O. Davis, Jr. The Tuskegee Airmen protected bomber planes from attacks by enemy fighters so that they could carry out their missions. They saw over 1500 missions in Europe and North Africa and did not lose any bombers that they escorted to enemy fire. The 99th Fighter Squadron is the only U.S. squadron to hold that record during World War II. At the end of the war, they returned home with many medals including 150 Distinguished Flying Crosses, Legions of Merit and the Red Star of Yugoslavia.

The Tuskegee Airmen were dedicated, determined men who made history by becoming the first African-American military pilots in history. Their story was left untold for many years. It could not be found in books, movies, television documentaries, or history class discussions. This story is important for several reasons but mainly because it shows how to overcome obstacles and achieve goals. Now, McKinney tells their tale, bringing the past into the light, and taking inquisitive readers on a literary flight in honor of America's first black military airmen. 

About the Author :

Louise Chessi McKinney was born in Waterbury, Conn. and has a Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree from the University of Connecticut, and a Master of Science Degree in Art History from Central Connecticut State University. Her graduate thesis was on the subject of Jacob Lawrence and the migration series. She also holds certificates in interior decorating and retail merchandising.

The beauty of the Southern landscape, especially North Carolina, and the rugged, colorful New England atmosphere has found its expression in her paintings and children's book illustrations. She is the author and illustrator of The Journey to Freedom on the Underground Railroad and Flying Into History: The Tuskegee Airmen Story.

She is a supporter of Americans for the Arts, as well as, Artists Helping the Homeless. She is a member and supporter of the Mattatuck Museum (Waterbury, Conn.), the Wadsworth Atheneum (Hartford, Conn.), and the Mashantucket Pequot Museum and Research Center (Ledyard, Conn.).

Her work has been displayed at The Southington Public Library, New Opportunities for Waterbury, and the Red Piano Too Folk Art Gallery in South Carolina. Her influences include artists such as Vincent Van Gogh, Jacob Lawrence, Picasso, Jonathan Green and Wayne Thiebaud. 

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Submitted By: Daniel Haulman Submitted: 12/23/2013
The Tuskegee Airmen trained at Moton Field, not Moton, and it was not Tuskegee Army Air Field, another field where they trained. 3/4 of 2000 did not become pilots. The 99th was activated in 1941, not 1942. There were Tuskegee Airmen-escorted bombers shot down by enemy aircraft. They did not earn 150 DFCs, but 96. The book must have many errors.

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