• Southwest Airlines supports TAI at its LUV Classic

    Dallas, Texas, Friday, October 11, 2019.

    Southwest Airlines held its 34th Annual LUV Classic Golf Tournament with over 500 golfers representing Southwest vendors and suppliers from across the nation whose companies support the LUV Classic.  Since its inception, the LUV Classic has donated $17.5 million dollars to 129 children’s charities.  The LUV Classic was started as a vehicle for Southwest Airlines to support Ronald McDonald House’s, which has been a recipient of funds every year from the LUV Classic.  This year Tuskegee Airmen Incorporated was selected as one of five (5) charities to receive a donation from the 2019 Southwest Airlines LUV Classic.

    At the 19th Hole Party following the tournament, TAI, represented by TAI President Johnson and Ms. Raines, was presented a check for $100,000 targeted for TAI Youth and Aviation Programs.  The total distribution was $484,000 and raises the total donated over 34 years to $18 million dollars:

    • $150,000              Ronald McDonald House
    • $100,000              Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital Stanford
    • $100,000              Children’s National Medical Center
    • $100,000              Tuskegee Airmen Youth and Aviation Programs
    • $34,000                Make a Wish Foundation

    This is a significant donation from one of our long term supporters.  TAI has partnered with Southwest Airlines for the last 12 years in the Continuing the Legacy Youth Program. Southwest also annually supports TAI Convention Youth Programs and provides travel for our DOTA’s and youth programs.

    Southwest Airlines’ Gary Kelly, Board Chair and CEO of Southwest Airlines, presented the donation ‘check’ to TAI President Leon Johnson. (Photo by Ms. Rita Raines)
  • President’s Post-convention letter to members

    President’s letter


    Ladies and Gentlemen,

    We just concluded a very successful 2019 National Convention.  The highlights included. Thirty-five (35) individuals being honored and recognized as joining the Lonely Eagles Chapter during the Lonely Eagles Ceremony at the start of the convention.

    Clarence Johnson, Director Diversity Management Operations Center, Defense Human Resources Activity, Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness gave an overview of the Department of Defense diversity efforts.  Trent Dudley, Deputy Director Air Force Operations Group from Headquarters USAF gave a presentation on demographic trends in the Department of Defense in general and specifics about rated demographics in the Air Force.  He also highlighted the military seminars and panels that were going to be conducted at the convention in parallel with the TAI business sessions.

    Fourteen (14) Documented Original Tuskegee Airmen (DOTA’s) attended the convention.  There were also three (3) surviving spouses.

    The AFJROTC Cadets from Zebulon B. Vance High School gave an excellent report on their efforts in executing the Tuskegee Airmen Ribbon Program,

    Corporate sponsors in attendance:

    American Airlines as the Platinum Sponsor hosted the Heritage Luncheon.

    • American Airlines has provided Frequent Flyer Miles for DOTA travel

    Southwest Airlines sponsored the Youth Program and the Youth Luncheon.

    • Southwest also sponsors the Continuing the Legacy Program annually
    • Southwest provides travel vouchers used for youth and DOTA travel

    The Department of Defense sponsored the Military-Diversity Luncheon.

    The Rosen Centre Hotel and Resort hosted the Welcome Reception

    USAA sponsored the attendee name badges and convention bags

    This year we again repeated the change to the footprint of the convention that moved the entertainment to the Welcome Reception which was held in the Exhibit Area to allow attendees to mix and mingle with our sponsors.  Melinda Doolittle, who was a finalist in the 6th season of American Idol and has become a very successful R&B performer, put on a show that had everyone in attendance rocking.  We hope to have her join us in 2020 in San Antonio.  At the opening of the Welcome Reception, I presented one of my Presidential Awards to Harris Rosen, the founder of Rosen Hotels & Resorts and serves as the company’s president and chief operating officer.

    Melvin Morris, Vietnam War Congressional Medal of Honor (MOH) Recipient was the Military-Diversity Luncheon speaker.  He was one of the first Army Green Berets and received the MOH for his valorous actions on Sept. 17, 1969, while commanding the Third Company, Third Battalion of the IV Mobile Strike Force near Chi Lang. Then-Staff Sgt. Morris led an advance across enemy lines to retrieve a fallen comrade and single-handedly destroyed an enemy force that had pinned his battalion from a series of bunkers. Staff Sgt. Morris was shot three times as he ran back toward friendly lines with the American casualties but did not stop until he reached safety.  He spoke to the luncheon attendees about how important it was to him to reach out to youth.

    The recipients of the Tuskegee Airmen Military Awards were announced at the Military-Diversity Luncheon. 

    2019 Awards

    General Benjamin O. Davis Jr Field Grade Officer Award

    • Major Richelle N.J. Hill (USAF)
      • Chief, Services’ Policy Integration Branch
      • Headquarters U. S. Air Force, Directorate of Services (AF/A1S)
      • Pentagon, Washington District of Colombia

    Captain Robert W. Williams Company Grade Officer

    • Captain Tamiko T. Gheen (USAF)
    • Flight Commander, TRICARE Operations & Patient Administration
    • 375th Medical Support Squadron
    • Scott AFB, Illinois 62225

    Chief Master Sergeant Fred Archer Senior NCO Award

    • Senior Master Sergeant Eric A. Simon (USAF)
    • Program Manager, Maintenance Manpower
    • Directorate of Logistics, Force Protection, and Engineering (ACC/A4)
    • Headquarters, Air Combat Command
    • Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Virginia

    Senior Master Sergeant Margaret Frances Barbour NCO Award

    • Technical Sergeant Terrance D. Cooley (USAF)
    • NCOIC, Commander’s Support Staff
    • 837th Cyberspace Operations Squadron
    • Joint Base San Antonio – Lackland, Texas

    The Heritage Luncheon featured DOTA’s James Harvey and Harry Stewart as speakers.  They were members of the Tuskegee Airmen team that won the 1949 US Air Force initial Top Gun competition.  They talked about the team selection, preparation for the competition, and their experiences during the competition.  Richard Baugh told the audience about the fact that the winning trophy was lost, and the results not recorded in USAF documentation.  Historian Zellie Orr was able to do research and discover the location of the trophy and obtain recognition for the team from the 332nd Fighter Group.  At the beginning of the luncheon, I presented one of my Presidential Awards to Lt. Gen. (ret) Stayce Harris.

    There was a two-day Youth Program for 50 participants.  On Day 1 the youth visited the award-winning Orlando Science Center, participating in multiple hands-on exhibits.  On Day 2 the Central Florida Wing of Civil Air Patrol (CAP) conducted a hands-on demonstration of several of their STEM Kits with the youth getting to assemble and work with rocket kits.  We have invited the Texas Wing of CAP to join us in 2020 to repeat this very successful youth activity. 

    The Youth Luncheon sponsored by Southwest Airlines (SWA) features a trio of their employees as presenters: Hope Stevens, Claude R. Platte Chapter member, Robin Rhodes, San Antonio Chapter member and Sandra Hall, a SWA Flight Attendant with over the top enthusiasm.  They talked about their roles at SWA and answered questions from the audience.  They concluded the luncheon by announcing that 40 attendees of the were winners of $500 Southwest gift cards for future flights.  In attendance were Southwest Airlines employees from a variety of workgroups including flight operations and customer service.

    The Tuskegee Airmen Scholarship Foundation gave a presentation on their activities and conducted several sessions including one on wealth management during the convention. 

    Life Membership Certificates and cards were distributed for 16 individuals at the convention.  Certificates and cards for those not in attendance were given to a member of their chapter or their Region President.  The Charter for the reactivated Lake Charles Louisiana Chapter was presented.

    The winners of the Regional and National Awards were:

    President’s Award            

    Harris Rosen (Founder, President & CEO of Rosen Hotels and Resorts)

    Lt. Gen. Stayce Harris (Los Angeles Chapter)

    Hope Stevens (Claude R. Platte Chapter)

    Karen Price-Ward (Southwest Airlines)

    Eastern Region Award     

    Jerry Burton (East Coast Chapter)

    Central Region Award                  

    Darryl Shirley (Greater Cincinnati Chapter/Ohio)

    Western Region Award                

    Larry Jackson (Archer-Ragsdale Chapter)

    Lemuel Custis Award       

    “T.J.” Spann (Tidewater Chapter)

    Noel Parrish Award                      

    Ralph Smith (Los Angeles Chapter)

    2019 was not an election year but we are conducting voting on resolutions and the 2020 TAI Financial Plan.  The results will be available after voting concludes on 30 August.

    At 3:20 pm on Friday the 16th of August the President of the Lake Charles Louisiana Chapter, Franklin J.P. Augustus, died when his Pitts aerobatic aircraft crashed near the New Orleans Lakefront Airport.  Nancy Parker a New Orleans TV news anchor who was on board the aircraft doing a news story also died.  Franklin Augustus had for over 30 years flown on the airshow circuit as the Drug Fighter, encouraging youth to avoid drugs.  He had been one of the attendees at the convention the previous week.

    The reports of officers, committee chairs and region presidents can be found in the Tuskegee Airmen Box online at https://Tuskegeeairmen.app.box.com. All members have access to the information in the Box by using the login information provided in the distributed letter.

    Our 2020 Convention will be August 6-8, 2020 at the Hilton Palacio Del Rio in San Antonio, Texas.  I hope to see many of you there.


    Leon A. Johnson

    National President; Tuskegee Airmen, Inc.                                       

  • Lake Charles Chapter President killed in a plane crash

    Tuskegee, AL, August 16, 2019  –  Franklin J.P. Augustus, 69, died 3:20 p.m. Friday August 16, 2019 in a plane crash about a half-mile south of New Orleans Lakefront [Lake Pontchartrain’s] Airport.  The plane involved was a 1983 Pitts S-2B aircraft. The Federal Aviation Administration will be investigating the crash and National Transportation Safety Board officials said there was a fire reported after the crash. The accident also took the life of his passenger, Nancy Parker, 53, WVUE-TV New Orleans news anchor while filming a news story. 

    Augustus was a passionate pilot, a certified flight instructor, and a person dedicated to TAI and other causes. Augustus was president of the Lake Charles Chapter of the Tuskegee Airmen Inc.  “He was one of the most passionate people I know,” according to Maggie Thomas, TAI administrative director. “He was remarkable, and full of energy.”  Augustus was instrumental in reinvigorating the Lake Charles Chapter in 2017 by recruiting members from New Orleans and across Louisiana.  He also established a Lake Charles Chapter TAI Youth Aviation Program in conjunction with support from the City of New Orleans along with introducing flying to community youth through the Young Eagles program and the Civil Air Patrol.

    Augustus grew up in a poor neighborhood in New Orleans and has been flying since he was 19.  He got hooked on aerobatics after taking advanced flight instruction in 1978.  He later developed a love for the air show business and became a collector of Pitts Special aerobatic planes. 

    In a 1988 New Orleans Times-Picayune story, Augustus described himself as the only black civilian air show pilot in the country.  A 1988 Ebony article contained a photograph of Augustus with his Pitts S-2B, the plane he flew and performed “daredevil aerial maneuvers at some 500 air shows annually.” He said “I was falling all over the sky because I wasn’t used to it,” he said, of the spins, rolls and loops.  “It’s fun,” he added. “[but] when I found out that aerobatic planes can take everything we give them and not fall apart, I wanted to do it every chance I got.”

    He often visited schools to speak with young students to sell young black students on aspiring to become pilots. “I want to let the young people know that if I can make it, anybody can,” he said in an article 31 years ago. Thirty years ago, Augustus described himself as the “world’s only black civilian air-show acrobatic pilot.” He said “It’s difficult to be a black in aviation because there are so few of us now. “There’s not a real color barrier, but when you walk in the door and you’re the only black person in the room, it’s difficult.”

    His Lake Charles Chapter also partnered with The Drug Fighter, an organization that seeks to prevent substance abuse, youth violence, gang affiliation, and crime among youth. As part of the program, members would dress up as superheroes to try and persuade kids not to do drugs. The organization aimed to help inner city children get exposure to flying, develop math skills and computer skills that would later help them in aviation. In his inspirational talks to youth, Augustus would mention that he grew up across from a public housing complex and that one of his challenges was to overcome overtures from people who would have set him on a path to crime.  “Indeed, we teach children to fly, in practical and symbolic terms. They will now get “high” by soaring to the heights,” The Drug Fighter website says.

    Franklin J.P. Augustus will be greatly missed by the National Office of Tuskegee Airmen Inc., the Lake Charles Chapter, and the City of New Orleans for his lasting contributions to our organization and his community.

  • B.O. Davis Airfield Dedication at USAFA

    For Immediate Release

    The United States Air Force Academy, Colorado Springs, CO – An invitation for November 1st, 2019. Tuskegee Airmen Inc. DOTA’s, TAI leadership and active chapter members are cordially invited to The United States Air Force Academy airfield dedication ceremony to formally name it in honor of General Benjamin O. Davis Jr. The ceremony will take place in the morning, and an additional recognition of the Davis family will be made at The United States Air Force Academy football game the following day, November 2nd.

    For more details, please contact Maj Mike Plummer, 719-333-6326 or Michael.Plummer1@usafa.edu.

  • TAI and Miles Analysts Partners Announce Service Agreement

    Miles Analysts Partners to lead donor & sponsor partnerships, development & licensing services

    June 24, 2019 Tuskegee, Alabama – Tuskegee Airmen Inc. (TAI) and Miles Analysts Partners (MAP) announced the signing of a service agreement to support TAI’s to expand the reach and long-term viability and sustainability of the organization and its mission. TAI is dedicated to the preservation of the legacy and accomplishments of the first African American aviators during World War II. Secondly to introduce and involve young people across the nation in the world of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).

    “We are very excited about Miles Analysts Partners as part of TAI team, their experience in capital raising, business analysis, product development and licensing fulfill core needs for TAI’s future” says Retired Brigadier General, Leon Johnson, National President of Tuskegee Airmen Incorporated.

    Miles Analyst Partners will focus on business analysis and strategic initiatives that build memberships, partnerships, licensing and merchandising. Miles Analysts Partners is led by Jacob R. Miles III, a nationally recognized entrepreneur and business leader in the toy and entertainment industry with experience in capital raising, product development and licensing.

    “I am honored to be part of the TAI team, supporting the mission of Tuskegee Airmen Incorporated. I am humbled by their history and stand proud of their accomplishments says Jacob R. Miles III, Managing Partner of Miles Analysts Partners

    TAI and Miles Analyst Partners will work together to honor and preserve the legacy of the Tuskegee Airmen by establishing a unique brand identity for TAI that supports the highest quality standards and the future of Tuskegee Airmen Incorporated (TAI).

    About Tuskegee Airmen Incorporated – TAI is a 501(c)3, non-profit, national organization existing primarily to motivate and inspire young Americans to become participants in our nation’s society and its democratic process. It also supports young men and women pursuing excellence, paying special attention to those interested in careers in aviation, technology, aerospace and the sciences.  TAI is dedicated to keeping alive the history, achievements, and importance of the original Tuskegee Airmen.

    About Miles Analysts Partners – founded by media, entertainment & toy industry analyst, investor, award winning engineer, entrepreneur and former Fortune 500, Corporate Officer. Jacob R. Miles III, he leads a team with extensive leadership and management experience in fundraising, marketing, events, technology, media, entertainment, licensing, toys and games, experienced business analysts and consultants representing over 75 years of bottom line responsibility experience.

  • 2019 Tuskegee Airmen, Inc (TAI) 48TH Annual National Convention Military Awards

    2019 Tuskegee Airmen, Inc (TAI) Annual National Military Awards recipients:


    Major Richelle N.J. Hill (USAF)

    Chief, Services’ Policy Integration Branch

    Headquarters U. S. Air Force, Directorate of Services (AF/A1S)

    Pentagon, Washington District of Colombia


    Captain Tamiko T. Gheen (USAF)

    Flight Commander, TRICARE Operations & Patient Administration

    375th Medical Support Squadron

    Scott AFB, Illinois 62225


    Senior Master Sergeant Eric A. Simon

    Program Manager, Maintenance Manpower

    Directorate of Logistics, Force Protection, and Engineering (ACC/A4)

    Headquarters, Air Combat Command

    Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Virginia


    Technical Sergeant Terrance D. Cooley (USAF)

    NCOIC, Commander’s Support Staff

    837th Cyberspace Operations Squadron

    Joint Base San Antonio – Lackland, Texas

    The military awards will be presented during the Military/Diversity luncheon at the Rosen Centre Hotel, Orlando, Florida, on Thursday, August 8, 2019. Find specific information about the convention at https://www.taiconvention.com/ .

    POC for this event is Mr. Trent Dudley. If you have any questions not answered on the website, you may contact him at dudleytod1@gmail.com . Thank you for your continued support of this event commemorating a vital piece of our nation’s history.

  • 2019 Continuing the Legacy in Aviation

    Southwest Airlines invites rising sixth grade through undergraduate college students (accompanied by a parent or guardian) residing in the Continental U.S. to attend a hands-on aviation experience. Airfare and hotel accommodations are provided. Applications are due by Friday, August 16, 2019 at 11:59 pm CST. Finalists will be notified by Monday, September 2, 2019.
    The Continuing the Legacy in Aviation includes touring the Southwest Airlines’ Pilot and Flight Attendant Training Centers, Maintenance facility, Network Operations Control, Headquarters Emergency Command Center, and Listening Center; flying the Southwest Airlines’ flight simulators; visiting the Frontiers of Flight Museum; meeting Southwest Airlines’ Leaders; participating in the Technology Escape Room; learning the history of the Documented Original Tuskegee Airmen; and mentoring by retired and current Southwest Airlines Employees.

  • 2019 TAI National President Armed Forces Week and Memorial Day Letter

  • 2019 Tuskegee Airmen Incorporated National Military Awards

    All submissions must be received by 1700 CST 7 June 2019

    1. The purpose of this solicitation message is to request nominations for the 2019 Tuskegee Airmen Incorporated National Military Awards.

    2. Award recipients will be recognized August 8 – 10, 2019 at the 48th Annual Tuskegee Airmen National Convention at the Rosen Centre Hotel, Orlando, Florida.

    3. Eligibility: active component, reserve or guard members serving in any Branch of the US armed services. Awards will be presented to outstanding military members regardless of race, color, religion, national origin or gender.

    4. Nominations will be accepted by wings or wing equivalents (brigade level for US Army and US Marine Corps, or wing/strike group for Navy). Pentagon three letter offices will be considered wing equivalents (AF/A3O, SAF/AQA, etc.).

    The full message on Nomination Packages can be found at:2019TAI_MilitaryAwardsSolicitationMessage