Beyond producing the men known as the “greatest generation”, World War II is also being noted as the beginning of the first real integration of the U.S. armed forces.
Near the end of the war, a massive snowstorm led to segregated military aviators burying their prejudices. Having never made any contact past their in-air interactions, white bomber crews were forced to land on ‘red tail’ fields designated for black pilots in Ramitelli Italy. Over a 5-day span, the black and white pilots began to find commonalities in their profession and focused less on their racial differences.
“We started talking about flying and flying became the common ground,” said bomber crew veteran, Jim Scheib.
WATCH THE “GREATEST GENERATION” OF MEN WHO FOUGHT IN WORLD WAR II CELEBRATE MORE THAN 65 YEARS OF UNITY
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The bond that was formed still lives on today. Both black and white veterans came together at a recent reunion to relive the incident that brought them together as brothers.
“To have them on our base made a coming together that I guess was incidental, accidental and eventful,” said former red tail fighter pilot, Ted Lumpkin.