African American veterans honored at the Va. War Memorial

RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — African American Military veterans were honored today at the Virginia War Memorial during the Black History Month program “A Tribute to Veterans of Color.”

One of the men honored was Howard Baugh whose father was a decorated fighter pilot and one of the Tuskegee Airmen.

“My dad gave me my first flying lesson, but many great lessons in life,” Baugh, the president of the Howard Baugh Chapter of the Tuskeegee Airmen, Inc. said.

Alongside his two brothers, Baugh spoke at length about his father – the late Lieutenant Colonel Howard L. Baugh Sr., a Petersburg native and Virginia State graduate who was a fighter pilot in the 99th fighter squadron during World War II in the European theater.

Baugh’s sons say he was not a boastful man. One of his son’s commented that he didn’t know the full extent of his father’s accomplishments until researching it on his own.

“I found out he flew 136 combat missions when the average white counterpart flew 50 and came home,” Richard Baugh said. “I said ‘Dad, why didn’t you ever tell me that you flew 146 combat missions?’ and he said, ‘You never asked.'”

The brothers say with recent films about the Tuskegee Airmen, they’re happy that the group is finally getting the recognition that they deserve. They also want people to know they consist of more than pilots.

“The Tuskeegee Airmen consisted of pilots, mechanics, chaplains, medical, nurses,” David Baugh said. “I mean, there was an all African American base.”

The Baugh Brothers now go around speaking to groups and kids, hoping to inspire and keep the legacy of their father and all the Tuskeegee Airmen alive.

“The sort of valor that these people showed is in every child,” David Baugh said. “When they believe it, they can attain it. It’s up to all of us to give hope to the next generation.”

 

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