The Hawaii State Senate honored the Tuskegee Airmen during its floor session Friday.
The Tuskagee Airmen are members of the 332d Fighter Group and 477th Bombardment Group that flew missions from Sicily to Normandy during World War II. The Tuskegee Airmen are also the only African American pilots who served in combat.
Hawaii residents Romaine Goldsborough and Philip Baham, along with Alexander Jefferson of Michigan, were presented a Certificate of Recognition from the Senate.
Romaine Goldsborough will be represented by his wife at the presentation.
Although unable to attend the presentation, Gov. Neil Abercrombie presented the veterans with a proclamation, declaring today “Tuskegee Airmen Day.”
“It was such an honor to meet these veterans who faced so much adversity, yet still had the strength to fight in the war. It was important to acknowledge and share their story and the contributions they made to our American history,” said Sen. Will Espero, chair of the Senate Committee Public Safety, Intergovernmental and Military Affairs.
While facing much adversity and limited opportunities, African Americans were barred from flying for the U.S. military prior to 1940. These barriers neared an end when civil rights groups and the press exerted enough pressure for an all African American pursuit squadron formed in Tuskegee, Alabama in 1941.
The Tuskegee Airmen overcame segregation and racial prejudice and became one of the most highly respected fighter groups of World War II. Their awards and decorations include three Distinguished Unit Citations, 14 Bronze Stars, and eight Purple Hearts. These achievements and commendations paved the way for full integration of African Americans in the U.S. military.