Name: Nicolás Mercado
Grade: 6to Biológicas
Although a rigid pattern of racial segregation prevailed in the United States during World War II, nearly 1,000Black military aviators were trained at an isolated complex near the town of Tuskegee, Alabama, and at Tuskegee Institute. As a result of this “Tuskegee Experiment” 450 Black fighter pilots under thecommand of Col. Benjamin O. Davis, Jr. Fought in the aerial war over North Africa, Sicily, and Europe, flying, in succession, P-40, P-39, P-47, and P-51 type aircraft. These gallant men flew 15,553sorties completing 1,578 missions with the 12th Tactical, and the 15th Strategic, U.S. Army Air Force. Col. Davis later became the first Black general in the U.S. Air Force and rose to the rank of Lt.General.
Known as the Schwartze Vogelmenshen (Black Birdmen) by the Germans who both feared and respected them. They were also known as the `Red Tail Angels' by white bomber crews because of their redpaint on their tail assemblies and their reputation for not losing bombers to enemy fighters as they provided fighter escort over strategic targets in Europe.
The 99th Fighter Squadron then mergedwith three other Black squadrons: the 100th; the 301st, and; the 302nd to form the 332nd Fighter Group, comprising the largest fighter unit in the 15th Air Force. From Italian bases they also destroyedenemy rail traffic, coastal surveillance stations, and hundreds of vehicles on air to ground strafing missions.
Of these pilots, 66 were killed in aerial combat while another 32 were either forceddown or shot down and captured as prisoners of war. The Airmen returned home with over 150 decorations including the Distinguished Flying Cross, Legion of Merit, and the Red Star of Yugoslavia.Another group, trained for medium bombardment duty was joined by the 332nd combat returnees to form the 447th Composite Fighter-Bomber Group. Although they never entered combat because of the surrender of...