News>Past, present, future Airmen come together to inspire
Staff Sgt. Dalia Nesmith and Staff Sgt. Candice Johnson, both of the 94th Airlift Wing, volunteered to represent Dobbins ARB and to learn more about diversity within the Air Force. The 2012 Tuskegee Airman Conference will run from Aug. 1 to Aug. 3 in Las Vegas. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Elizabeth Van Patten)
Staff Sgts. Candice Johnson and Dalia Nesmith, both of the 94th Airlift Wing attended the Tuskegee Airmen Inc.’s 2012 national convention in Las Vegas July 31 – Aug. 3. The two Staff Sgts. participated in the convention’s panel discussions where they met with original member of the Tuskegee Airmen, retired Capt. Roscoe C. Brown. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Elizabeth Van Patten)
Staff Sgt. Dalia Nesmith, 94th Airlift Wing equal opportunity specialist, attended the Tuskegee Airmen Inc.’s 2012 national convention in Las Vegas July 31 – Aug. 3. Nesmith had to opportunity to meet and speak with several members of the Tuskegee Airmen and hear their compelling stories. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Elizabeth Van Patten)
Staff Sgts. Candice Johnson and Dalia Nesmith, both of the 94th Airlift Wing attended the Tuskegee Airmen Inc.’s 2012 national convention in Las Vegas July 31 – Aug. 3. The two Staff Sgts. met Airmen from across the country, such as Lt. Col. Kristin Damigella, 910th Airlift Wing equal opportunity director. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Elizabeth Van Patten)
Staff Sgts. Candice Johnson and Dalia Nesmith, both of the 94th Airlift Wing attended the Tuskegee Airmen Inc.’s 2012 national convention in Las Vegas July 31 – Aug. 3. The two Staff Sgts. participated in the convention’s youth day where they met with members of the Tuskegee Airmen Inc. to work on youth advocacy and education. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Elizabeth Van Patten)
by Senior Airman Elizabeth Van Patten
94th Airlift Wing Public Affairs
8/27/2012 - LAS VEGAS -- The Tuskegee Airmen, featured in the 2012 film produced by legendary film maker George Lucas entitled Red Tails, was the hot topic of this year's Tuskegee Airmen Convention, held in Las Vegas. As Lucas honored the Tuskegee Airmen in his film, the Airmen honored him in both word and deed.
During the first day of the convention, a panel discussion was held where retired Col. Charles E. McGee and retired Capt. Roscoe C. Brown, both original members of the 332nd Fighter Group, where able to discuss the actual events during World War II based on questions from the audience.
Some of the former pilots were brought into the production of the film by Lucas as consultants, according to Brown.
Lucas' goal was to make a blockbuster. He told the Tuskegee Airmen this, up front, before filming. In order to achieve blockbuster status, Lucas did take some creative liberties. However, the two Airmen were able to contribute so much information to the project, Lucas had enough material to produce a supplementary documentary, Double Victory, which is included with the purchase of the movie.
The two Airmen discussed this at the convention and praised Lucas' efforts to remain true to the actual events.
"The essentials of the movie are correct," said Brown. "Some of the details are not as correct as they could be if we were doing a documentary. That's what led Lucas to create the documentary Double V. George Lucas specifically said he wanted the movie to be about heroes, not about victims, which is why it didn't show as much racism as actually existed."
Lucas' film did wonders to help further the legend and legacy of the Tuskegee Airmen, truly honoring the past. Lucas also made a special guest appearance the final day of the convention.
Convention goers of the 41st Annual Tuskegee Airmen Inc. National Convention included two of Dobbins Air Reserve Base's Airmen, Staff Sgts. Candice Johnson and Dalia Nesmith, both of the 94th Airlift Wing.
"I actually haven't seen Red Tails yet, but I am definitely going to go home and check it, and the documentary, out," said Johnson. "Meeting the actual Tuskegee Airmen and seeing George Lucas was definitely a great experience. I now know more of the history and saw some of that history in the making."
History was made when George Lucas was honored at the convention and the Tuskegee Airmen Inc. made him an honorary member, complete with red blazer.
Participating in the breakout sessions and luncheons and seeing the exhibits offered a unique perspective on the history of the Air Force, said Nesmith. We were able to hear their stories, remember the Tuskegee Airmen who are no longer with us and see exactly how their piece fit into the overall Air Force puzzle.
Johnson and Nesmith were able to take part in history this year and help by ensuring the future.
How did they help ensure the future?
Throughout the convention, attendees were joined by children of all ages and backgrounds. The things the children had in common were their goals and interests: to serve their country through an interest in aviation.
Since most of the convention attendees were past or present Army Air Corps or Air Force Airmen, it only seems too fitting that they be joined by the future.
"I think it's very important to reach back to our youth because our youth are our future," said Maj. Terry Troutman, Air Force Reserve Command plans and programs officer. "Events like this, I think, are a vehicle to get the information out."
Children, young and old, were invited to attend workshops geared to getting this information out.
Concurrent workshops included lessons by Tuskegee Airmen Inc. on the history of aviation, a Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation workshop on setting financial goals, and a delegation from the United States Air Force Academy was on hand to explain the process for earning a USAFA appointment.
Future Airmen also showcased what they have learned and were honored for their accomplishments, from feats in robotics to books they have written.
Current Airmen were invited to attend various panel discussions and workshops focusing on different aspects of Airmanship and wingmanship. Some, as with the discussion on the movie Red Tails, included members of the remaining 42 Tuskegee Airmen.
These activities included discussions on topics from flying formations to lessons in history - from those who were there - to harnessing the power of positive thinking, as the Tuskegee Airmen showed when overcoming the challenges to diversity they faced.
Opening the convention was one such panel discussion, specifically on overcoming challenges associated with diversity, where Service Members asked the tough questions of the panel. On the panel was Brig. Gen. Allyson R. Solomon, Maryland Air National Guard assistant adjutant general, who encouraged Airmen to take ownership of their careers.
"Showing up every day with the right attitude, showing up confident, showing up everyday doing your job to the best of your ability is the only thing that you can take away," said Solomon. "You cannot control anyone else's opinion of you, nor can you control their ability to provide you with opportunities. You have to show up to work understanding that there are challenges and that you have to be the one to solve them."
Between feature film, Red Tails, and companion documentary, Double Victory, and the focus of the Tuskegee Airmen, Inc. National Convention on the nation's youth, the legend and legacy of the Tuskegee Airmen have been honored.
This year's convention held true to the goals that were set for it by Tuskegee Airmen, Inc. and actually took steps toward "Honoring our past and ensuring our future."