MAXWELL AIR FORCE BASE, Ala --
Lt. Col. James H. Harvey, an original Tuskegee Airman, tells what it take to break barriers at the Maxwell air show, Saturday, April 8, 2017.
Harvey was a World War II fighter pilot of the 332nd Fighter Group, the first all-African American squadron.
“When this all started I didn’t feel like I was a part of anything, I was just doing my duty…not until years later did I know that I had been a part of something,” said Harvey.
May, 1949, Harvey was drafted into the Army and shortly after applied for cadet school and was accepted. Out of the 10 cadets, he was the only African American and one of two who successfully finish the course.
However, being one of the first African-American pilots was not enough for Harvey, as he said many times; he strived to be the best.
In 1949, Harvey was one of three pilots of the 332nd Fighter Group that competed in the first United States Air Force Gunnery Meet, held in Las Vegas, Nevada. The 332nd Fighter Group took first place in the conventional aircraft category.
“We proved that in order to succeed you have to be the best and we were the best. It’s that simple, strive to be the best, that was our motto…and that’s what we were.” He said.
When asked what he hopes the new generation takes away from the legacy of the Tuskegee Airmen he stressed you must be the best and never accept any less.
“Persevere and don’t give up and like I said, be the best. If you strive to be the best and don’t take anything less, don’t be mediocre and you’ll succeed, but you have to have a plan,” said Harvey.
He continued, “The rest is History.”