The Support Crews

The Support Crews
The Support Crews

4 - 99th air mechanics graduate at Chanute - ChanuteBecause the Tuskegee facility was not ready for them when they needed to start training, the first group of flight support personnel for the 99th Fighter Squadron trained at Chanute Air Base in Rantoul, Illinois.  Although the Chanute Air Base was also officially segregated, that segregation policy often blurred as the Chanute instructors quickly realized that their black students were extremely motivated and would cause no trouble if they were included in white classes. In fact, the black aircraft mechanics, machinists, welders, radio operators and armorers of the 99th earned the highest cumulative group grade point average ever posted at Chanute.

3 - Field comm training 99th at Chanute - Chanute

The support personnel training program left Chanute for Tuskegee in late fall of 1941. In all, more than 10,000 support personnel would be trained to support the Tuskegee-trained pilots.  They cooked, cleaned up, laundered, drove ambulances, fixed airplanes, loaded bullets, healed the sick and injured, and flew as crew with the pilots.  Many endured the dangers of war alongside the pilots, and all served in a segregated Army that, at the time, limited their opportunities to serve their country.

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