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Steve Gilliard, 1964-2007

It is with tremendous sadness that we must convey the news that Steve Gilliard, editor and publisher of The News Blog, passed away June 2, 2007. He was 42.

To those who have come to trust The News Blog and its insightful, brash and unapologetic editorial tone, we have Steve to thank from the bottom of our hearts. Steve helped lead many discussions that mattered to all of us, and he tackled subjects and interest categories where others feared to tread.

Please keep Steve's friends and family in your thoughts and prayers.

Steve meant so much to us.

We will miss him terribly.

photo by lindsay beyerstein


Seitan Worshipper: "Yahoo-AP - Black airmen honored for fighting Nazis, racism"

What heroes look like

Thanks to Seitan Worshipper for this great find!

In honor of Steve - may he make a complete, speedy recovery.

Black airmen honored for fighting Nazis, racism

TUSKEGEE, Alabama (Reuters) - The first black U.S. Air Force unit
will finally receive national recognition this week for fighting a
double war -- one against the Nazis abroad, the other against racial
segregation at home.

President George W. Bush will honor the surviving members of the
Tuskegee Airmen with a Congressional Gold Medal, the highest civilian
award given by Congress, at a ceremony on Thursday at the U.S. Capitol.

The airmen helped lay the groundwork for the civil rights movement
and influenced President Harry Truman's decision to desegregate the
army in 1948.

But just as their success is being recognized, one aspect of the
story is in dispute.

The "Red Tails" of the 99th Fighter Squadron -- so called because
some of the planes they piloted had distinctive red tails -- flew
some 1,578 missions from their base in North Africa, destroyed over
260 enemy aircraft, sank one enemy destroyer and demolished numerous
enemy installations, according to military records.

For decades, they were also credited with never having lost a bomber
under their escort. Yet Daniel Haulman of the Air Force Historical
Research Agency said some of the many bombers escorted were in fact
shot down.



The 99th Fighter Squadron was set up after the army reluctantly
agreed to train a group of black pilots at a remote air school in
Tuskegee, Alabama, keeping them separate from the rest of the army in
line with its policy of segregation.

In all, about 1,000 pilots were trained, and also ground crew. Fewer
than a third of the pilots are still alive to receive the medal.

"We had the feeling that the program was designed to fail," said one
of the pilots, retired Air Force Lt. Col. Charles Dryden, who
graduated from the school in 1942.

"Our mantra was that we dared not fail because if we did, the doors
of future aviation would be closed to black people forever," he said
in an interview at his home in Atlanta.


"I had a deep feeling of fear," he said of his first combat
encounter. "It wasn't about the enemy, it was about myself ... But
the first time I saw the enemy I ran (flew) toward him and I knew
that I was a tiger and not a pussy cat."

On graduating from the flying school, he rode the train back to New
York wearing his uniform.

"As I was proudly preening my way through the terminal a little white
lady said: 'Here Boy. Carry my bags."' The remark angered him but
taught him a lesson. "It humbled me. It taught me: It's not the
uniform that counts, it's what's inside."



Tuskegee University, set up to educate blacks by Booker T.
Washington, lobbied the Air Force to train the airmen at its own
pioneering school for black civilian pilots at Moton Field, land now
being restored as a national park and historic site.

"The Tuskegee airmen grew straight out of this culture of achievement
and built on it," he said in an interview. "The segregation was part
of the trigger that enabled them to succeed."

- posted by Seitan Worshipper

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