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Tuskegee Airmen honored by Congress

March 29, 2007 at 9:14 PM

WASHINGTON, March 29 (UPI) -- Surviving members of the Tuskegee Airmen received the Congressional Gold Medal, the highest U.S. civilian honor, Thursday in a Washington ceremony.

The Airmen were black pilots, flight crew and ground crew in the segregated World War II Army.

"Their true heroism lies in fighting for the values of America -- equality, justice, and opportunity -- even when those values were not fully extended to them," said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif. "Today, we try to right that wrong. And now, here in the Rotunda of the United States Capitol, we give the Tuskegee Airmen the heroes' welcome they have so long deserved."

President George W. Bush also attended the ceremony.

"You helped win a war, and you helped change our nation for the better," Bush said.

Almost 1,000 black pilots were trained at the Tuskegee Army Air Field, with more than 400 of them serving overseas. They included the 332nd Fighter Escort Group, the Redtails, known for never losing a bomber they were escorting.

Some of the survivors have mixed feelings about the honor.

"It's more then 60 years later," Woodrow Crockett told the Washington Post. "Sixty years is a long time -- a very long time."

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