WWII Tuskegee Airman tells Delaware students to never stop learning [video]

 (Nichelle Polston/WHYY)

(Nichelle Polston/WHYY)

Some Wilmington 5th graders received a special visit from one of the first black servicemen to serve as military aviators in the U.S. armed forces.

Tuskegee Airman Milton Holmes is now 87. He often meets with children to talk about his flying experience during World War II spoke to students at the Elbert Palmer Elementary School in Wilmington on Thursday. Holmes message was centered on education.

“You can’t get anything without going to school,” Holmes said.

Before the Tuskegee Airmen, no African American had been a U.S. military pilot. Before this group was formed some African Americans tried to become aerial observers and were rejected. However, the discrimination only encouraged Holmes to work hard and stay committed to his goals. He travels to schools to encourage kids today to do the same.

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“I want them to be disciplined, to have a goal, to obey their teachers and parents,” said Holmes. But aim high, so when they fall they’ll still be up there.”

According to Holmes, people should “never stop learning.”

Today, he belongs to a group that encourages young people to become airman. Holmes has even written a book, “Memories of the Unexpected – The Story of a Tuskegee Airman” as a way to share his story.The Tuskegee Airmen helped pave the way for the integration of the U.S. armed forces in 1948.

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