Sumter To Host Dedication for Tuskegee Airmen Monument

SUMTER, SC (January 30, 2024) – The City of Sumter is set to dedicate the newest monument in Veterans Park to four Sumterites and Tuskegee Airmen at 10 AM on February 9, 2024. 

The Memorial was established to honor the first African American aviators in World War II. Four of these intrepid airmen had ties to the Sumter community: Willie Ashley, Jr., Leroy Bowman, Philip Rembert, and Emmett Rice were among the pioneers who, according to the official US Army website, “literally smashed through an aerial glass-ceiling and in heroic fashion, displayed the skills and courage of African Americans.” In addition to pilots, the Tuskegee Airmen included support personnel such as navigators, meteorologists, air traffic controllers, and others who were trained at schools such as MIT and Harvard Business School. 

“Sumter’s memorial features a full-scale replica of the storied P-51 Mustang “Red Tail,” stated David Merchant, Mayor of the City of Sumter. “It’s the only one outside the National Historic Site in Tuskegee, Alabama on permanent public display.” 

General Charles Q. Brown, Jr., the principal military advisor to the President of the United States and the current Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff will be the keynote speaker for the February 9th event. 

Funding for the Tuskegee Airman Monument was provided by a grant from the Williams Edwards Brice Community Trust and the Central Carolina Community Foundation. 

There are an increasing number of public spaces dedicated to the Tuskegee Airmen as awareness of their contributions has increased through the years. Monuments have been constructed in Michigan, California, Pennsylvania, Indiana, and several other states, along with memorial trails in Kentucky and Illinois. There are commemorative spaces in places as diverse as Campomarino, Italy and Arlington National Cemetery, and another South Carolina memorial located in Walterboro. However, Sumter’s memorial is singular in featuring a full-scale replica of the storied P-51 Mustang “Red Tail.” 

Veterans Park is located at 3875 Broad Street in Sumter. For more information, contact Shelley Kile, Communications and Tourism Director, at (803) 774-1661 or [email protected]. 

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