In a meeting held virtually Aug. 5, the Texas Veterans Land Board (VLB) voted unanimously to name the state’s newest veterans home, to be located in Fort Worth, for the Tuskegee Airmen.
Fort Worth was home to at least five of the World War II heroes who were among the hundreds of Black airmen trained in Alabama to fly missions during the war.
Texas’ 10th State Veterans Home will have its official groundbreaking at 9 a.m. Thursday, Aug. 19, at 2200 Joe B. Rushing Road.
The Fort Worth Metropolitan Black Chamber of Commerce, which played a key role in getting VLB Chairman and State Land Commissioner George P. Bush to consider Fort Worth for the newest site, led a campaign to have the home named for the Tuskegee Airmen, the chamber said in a news release.
Several area local officials sent letters of support. Among those endorsing the naming were Tarrant County Judge Glen Whitley, Tarrant County Commissioner Roy Brooks and State Sen. Beverly Powell.
During Thursday’s meeting, the Black Chamber’s Director of Communications Bob Ray Sanders made a presentation as to why the naming was more than appropriate.
He quoted from a letter to the Texas General Land Office from the late President and CEO of the Black Chamber, Devoyd Jennings. That was one of Jennings’ last wishes.
All of the Fort Worth Tuskegee Airmen are now dead, with the last two passing away in 2019, both at the age of 96.
Mr. Jennings’ letter said that the Tuskegee pilots flew more than 1,500 missions – some 15,000 sorties – while fighting the Germans in North Africa and Italy. They destroyed or damaged 36 German planes in the air and 237 on the ground, as well as nearly 1,000 rail cars and transport vehicles.
“Their outstanding performance earned them more than 150 Distinguished Flying Crosses. During President George W. Bush’s administration, the Tuskegee Airmen were awarded the Congressional Gold Medal, the highest civilian award presented by the U.S. Congress. And, President Barack Obama invited the then-330 surviving members to attend his inauguration,” the letter said.
“Many of these men, including the ones in Fort Worth, returned to their homes still facing discrimination and segregation. Yet, they became and remained outstanding leaders and role models in their communities,” Mr. Jennings said in the letter.