Tuskegee Airmen Texas State Veterans Home breaks ground

Texas Veterans Land Board Chairman George P. Bush announces the official name of the Tuskegee Airmen Texas State Veterans Home. Credit: Texas Veterans Land Board

Texas Veterans Land Board Chairman George P. Bush broke ground and unveiled the name of the VLB’s 10th nursing home, The Tuskegee Airmen Texas State Veterans Home, Aug. 19.

Texas Veterans Land Board Chairman George P. Bush leads the groundbreaking of the Veterans home. From left: Tarrant County Commissioner Roy Charles Brooks, Fort Worth City Councilman Chris Nettles, Fort Worth Mayor Mattie Parker, VLB Chairman George P. Bush, Fort Worth Metropolitan Black Chamber of Commerce Chairman Pastor Sultan Cole and Tarrant County Judge B. Glen Whitley. Credit: Texas Veterans Land Board

The Fort Worth area is known to have been home to at least five former members of the elite group of World War II military aviators.

“This facility will represent more than just a new building. For the veterans who will live here, it represents a new beginning. It is fitting to have this milestone – our 10th home – represent a new era of veterans who redefined the meaning of bravery as some of the greatest warriors this nation has ever known,” Bush said.

He was joined at the ground-breaking by local elected officials, business leaders, veterans, and other members of the community.

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The Tuskegee Airmen fought for America’s freedom even at a time when America didn’t always give them the freedom they deserved, and in many ways, still have not gotten the credit they truly deserve for their incredible acts of service and grit, Bush said.

“We must honor those who have honored us with their service. It’s been said that America is the land of the free only because it is the home of the brave. And today, we break ground for a home to honor some of the very bravest,” he said.

The Tuskegee Airmen flew over 1,500 missions across North Africa and Europe in WWII and collectively amassed more than 150 Distinguished Flying Cross awards, 60 Purple Hearts, and the Congressional Gold Medal—Congress’ highest expression of national appreciation for distinguished achievements and contributions. The all-Black group of pilots earned their fame by serving valiantly for their nation despite their encounters of blatant racism and prejudice. Their contributions during WWII and beyond forged the path for integration in the military and inspired future civil rights movements across America in the years that followed.

County Commissioner Roy Brooks posted his comments at the groundbreaking on Facebook.

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He named six Tuskegee Airmen associated with Fort Worth – 2nd Lt. Claude R. Platte, 2nd Lt. Robert T. McDaniel, Sgt. John Flanagan Jr., 1st Lt. George McCrumby (killed in action, 02/29/1944), Flight Officer Alfred Garret, 2nd Lt. Jacob Greenwell and Lt. Col. George Hardy, who was stationed at Carswell Air Force in 1953.

But because of his race, Hardy was denied housing on base, and was forced to live 10 miles away, Brooks said.

The fight today in America is not about policy or priorities but about who is “us” and who is “them,” Brooks said.

“There are those who counted the men we honor today as ‘them.’ These men defended their country with dedication and courage. They so believed in the American promise that they put their lives at risk for a country that didn’t event count them as full citizens, because they believed in the American promise. They challenged America to live up to its ideals – to expand its circle of promise. They made America better,” Brooks said.

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He also recognized the late Devoyd Jennings, president and CEO of the Fort Worth Tarrant County Metropolitan Black Chamber of Commerce, who passed away  recently before seeing this project which he helped conceive come to fruition.

The Veterans Land Board operates nine other nursing homes across Texas for eligible Veterans, their spouses and Gold Star families.

The Fort Worth community played a significant role in being selected as the new location by writing several letters of support and providing testimony during VLB meetings, the VLB said in a news release.

The community’s already tight knit bond to the Tuskegee Airmen and their relatives makes Tarrant County a fitting location. The 100,000 square foot home will have the capacity to support 120 veterans, including up to 30 who may require memory care.

 The location is adjacent to the Fort Worth VA clinic.