Red Tails Honor The Legacy Of Fallen Tuskegee Airman
By Senior Airman Hayden Johnson, 187th Fighter Wing Public Affairs
/ Published March 28, 2019
ARLINGTON NATIONAL CEMETARY, Va. –Dannelly Field’s 100th Fighter Squadron carries more than the name “Red Tails”, it carries the history and legacy of the Tuskegee Airmen who faced challenges and valiantly served not only on the battle field, but on the home front.
Today, the Red Tails continue to honor those men for the sacrifices they made in service to our country.
On March 22, 2019, the Red Tails performed the Missing Man formation, an aerial salute for a fallen member, for Capt. Lawrence E. Dickson before his remains were laid to rest during a full military honors funeral at Arlington National Cemetery.
Dickson was a Tuskegee Airman with the 100th FS, 332nd Fighter Group, who was declared missing in action in December 1944 after the engine of his P -51D Mustang failed while returning from an aerial reconnaissance mission.
Last summer, his remains were found after nearly 75 years and returned to his daughter and remaining family.
“To be able to honor his sacrifice, and the closure we’re hoping to bring to Ms. Andrews (Dickson’s daughter) and her family, is very humbling.” said Lt. Col. Rob Stimpson, the 100th FS commander.
The Tuskegee Airmen overcame segregation and prejudice to become one of the most highly respected fighter groups of World War II. Their achievements, together with the men and women who supported them, paved the way for full integration of the U.S. military.
“I have no idea the kind of adversity and the kind of challenges [Dickson] had to face external to the challenges that already existed flying those airplanes.” Stimpson said. “[Flying aircraft], in and of itself, is a challenge that I can relate to, but on top of that, having to fight through the racial tensions [of the time] speaks to his character.”
Dickson’s legacy and sacrifice is one not to be forgotten, Stimpson continued. The heritage of the Tuskegee Airmen and 100th Fighter Squadron is what makes the Red Tails who they are.
“The minute you speak about it, people get it.” Stimpson said. “They understand the importance of it, that this is a priority.
“We could have just as easily done [the flyover] from afar, but I think Ms. Andrews is owed our support for the sacrifice she had to make. She didn’t have a choice...he did have a choice. He made the choice to put himself in harm’s way, and then didn’t come home. Now he’s coming home, and it’s important to be a part of that.” Stimpson said.