The Legacy of the Tuskegee Airmen Lives On

While two Southern California members of the legendary Tuskegee Airmen, the first all African-American aerial unit in World War II, have passed on, their legacy and their memory lives on.

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    NEWSLETTERS

    While two Southern California members of the legendary Tuskegee Airmen, the first all African-American aerial unit in World War II, have passed on, their legacy and their memory lives on. (Published Wednesday, Jan 11, 2012)

    Anticipation is building for George Lucas' movie "Red Tails" about The Tuskegee Airmen, black pilots in the segregated military in World War Two.

    Evelyn Johnson doesn't need a movie to appreciate those pioneers.

    Her husband Raymond was a Tuskegee Airman, drafted out of ROTC at Howard University.

    "He liked flying, but he could not fly here. As a matter of fact, the Tuskegee Airmen when they came back home, couldn't get jobs flying. They couldn't even fly freight," according to Johnson.

    Raymond Johnson became a lawyer after the war, fought for civil rights in LA and raised a family with Evelyn.

    His time with the Airmen became a distant memory.

    "It wasn't a great big thing back, when in the 40s and 50s," according to Johnson. "Because when they came back home no one paid too much attention to it."

    Attention was paid in 2007 when President George W. Bush presented The Congressional Gold Medal to surviving Tuskegee Airmen.

    Raymond and Evelyn Johnson were there.

    "The gratitude that was shown to the Tuskegee Airmen, and to see their response. They were so grateful that they were finally being recognized," according to Johnson.

    Congressman Adam Schiff attended that ceremony, and on Saturday will rename a Post Office in Pasadena for Oliver Goodall, a Tuskegee Airman from Pasadena who died in 2010.

    "They were patriotic, they were courageous. They had distinguished flying records during World War Two,and they did all of this while combating racism and segregation at home," according to Representative Adam Schiff, D-Burbank.

    Evelyn Johnson now prepares for her husband's memorial service on Thursday.

    Raymond Johnson died December 31st at the age 89, three weeks shy of the debut of "Red Tails".

    "I think it's wonderful," Johnson says. "These are stories that should be known, and they should be heard. They're inspirational to young people. Particularly young, black people."