Text: H.R.1259 — 109th Congress (2005-2006)All Information (Except Text)
Public Law No: 109-213 (04/11/2006)
[109th Congress Public Law 213]
[From the U.S. Government Printing Office]
CONGRESSIONAL GOLD MEDAL TO THE TUSKEGEE AIRMEN
[[Page 120 STAT. 322]]
Public Law 109-213
To award a congressional gold medal on behalf of the Tuskegee Airmen,
collectively, in recognition of their unique military record, which
inspired revolutionary reform in the Armed Forces. <<NOTE: Apr. 11,
2006 - [H.R. 1259]>>
Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the
United States of America in Congress <<NOTE: 31 USC 5111
SECTION 1. FINDINGS.
The Congress finds the following:
(1) In 1941, President Franklin D. Roosevelt overruled his
top generals and ordered the creation of an all Black flight
training program. President Roosevelt took this action one day
after the NAACP filed suit on behalf of Howard University
student Yancy Williams and others in Federal court to force the
Department of War to accept Black pilot trainees. <<NOTE: Yancy
Williams.>> Yancy Williams had a civilian pilot's license and
had earned an engineering degree. Years later, Major Yancy
Williams participated in an air surveillance project created by
President Dwight D. Eisenhower.
(2) Due to the rigid system of racial segregation that
prevailed in the United States during World War II, Black
military pilots were trained at a separate airfield built near
Tuskegee, Alabama. They became known as the ``Tuskegee Airmen''.
(3) The Tuskegee Airmen inspired revolutionary reform in the
Armed Forces, paving the way for full racial integration in the
Armed Forces. They overcame the enormous challenges of prejudice
and discrimination, succeeding, despite obstacles that
(4) From all accounts, the training of the Tuskegee Airmen
was an experiment established to prove that so-called
``coloreds'' were incapable of operating expensive and complex
combat aircraft. Studies commissioned by the Army War College
between 1924 and 1939 concluded that Blacks were unfit for
leadership roles and incapable of aviation. Instead, the
Tuskegee Airmen excelled.
(5) Overall, some 992 Black pilots graduated from the pilot
training program of the Tuskegee Army Air Field, with the last
class finishing in June 1946, 450 of whom served in combat. The
first class of cadets began in July 1941 with 13 airmen, all of
whom had college degrees, some with Ph.D. degrees, and all of
whom had pilot's licenses. <<NOTE: Benjamin O. Davis, Jr.>> One
of the graduates was Captain Benjamin O. Davis Jr., a United
States Military Academy graduate. Four aviation cadets were
commissioned as second lieutenants, and 5 received Army Air
Corps silver pilot wings.
[[Page 120 STAT. 323]]
(6) <<NOTE: Daniel James. Lucius Theus.>> That the
experiment achieved success rather than the expected failure is
further evidenced by the eventual promotion of 3 of these
pioneers through the commissioned officer ranks to flag rank,
including the late General Benjamin O. Davis, Jr., United States
Air Force, the late General Daniel ``Chappie'' James, United
States Air Force, our Nation's first Black 4-star general, and
Major General Lucius Theus, United States Air Force (retired).
(7) 450 Black fighter pilots under the command of then
Colonel Benjamin O. Davis, Jr., fought in World War II aerial
battles over North Africa, Sicily, and Europe, flying, in
succession, P-40, P-39, P-47, and P-51 aircraft. These gallant
men flew 15,553 sorties and 1,578 missions with the 12th
Tactical Air Force and the 15th Strategic Air Force.
(8) Colonel Davis later became the first Black flag officer
of the United States Air Force, retired as a 3-star general, and
was honored with a 4th star in retirement by President William
(9) German pilots, who both feared and respected the
Tuskegee Airmen, called them the ``Schwartze Vogelmenschen'' (or
``Black Birdmen''). White American bomber crews reverently
referred to them as the ``Black Redtail Angels'', because of the
bright red painted on the tail assemblies of their fighter
aircraft and because of their reputation for not losing bombers
to enemy fighters as they provided close escort for bombing
missions over strategic targets in Europe.
(10) The 99th Fighter Squadron, after having distinguished
itself over North Africa, Sicily, and Italy, joined 3 other
Black squadrons, the 100th, the 301st, and the 302nd, designated
as the 332nd Fighter Group. They then comprised the largest
fighter unit in the 15th Air Force. From Italian bases, they
destroyed many enemy targets on the ground and at sea, including
a German destroyer in strafing attacks, and they destroyed
numerous enemy aircraft in the air and on the ground.
(11) 66 of these pilots were killed in combat, while another
32 were either forced down or shot down and captured to become
prisoners of war. These Black airmen came home with 150
Distinguished Flying Crosses, Bronze Stars, Silver Stars, and
Legions of Merit, one Presidential Unit Citation, and the Red
Star of Yugoslavia.
(12) Other Black pilots, navigators, bombardiers and crewman
who were trained for medium bombardment duty as the 477th Bomber
Group (Medium) were joined by veterans of the 332nd Fighter
Group to form the 477th Composite Group, flying the B-25 and P-
47 aircraft. The demands of the members of the 477th Composite
Group for parity in treatment and for recognition as competent
military professionals, combined with the magnificent wartime
records of the 99th Fighter Squadron and the 332nd Fighter
Group, led to a review of the racial policies of the Department
(13) In September 1947, the United States Air Force, as a
separate service, reactivated the 332d Fighter Group under the
Tactical Air command. Members of the 332d Fighter Group were
``Top Guns'' in the 1st annual Air Force Gunnery Meet in 1949.
[[Page 120 STAT. 324]]
(14) For every Black pilot, there were 12 other civilian or
military Black men and women performing ground support duties.
Many of these men and women remained in the military service
during the post-World War II era and spearheaded the integration
of the Armed Forces of the United States.
(15) Major achievements are attributed to many of those who
returned to civilian life and earned leadership positions and
respect as businessmen, corporate executives, religious leaders,
lawyers, doctors, educators, bankers, and political leaders.
(16) <<NOTE: Tuskegee Airmen, Inc.>> A period of nearly 30
years of anonymity for the Tuskegee Airmen was ended in 1972
with the founding of Tuskegee Airmen, Inc., in Detroit,
Michigan. Organized as a non-military and nonprofit entity,
Tuskegee Airmen, Inc., exists primarily to motivate and inspire
young Americans to become participants in our Nation's society
and its democratic process, and to preserve the history of their
(17) The Tuskegee Airmen have several memorials in place to
perpetuate the memory of who they were and what they
(A) the Tuskegee Airmen, Inc., National Scholarship
Fund for high school seniors who excel in mathematics,
but need financial assistance to begin a college
(B) a museum in historic Fort Wayne in Detroit,
(C) Memorial Park at the Air Force Museum at Wright-
Patterson Air Force Base in Dayton, Ohio;
(D) a statue of a Tuskegee Airman in the Honor Park
at the United States Air Force Academy in Colorado
Springs, Colorado; and
(E) a National Historic Site at Moton Field, where
primary flight training was performed under contract
with the Tuskegee Institute.
SEC. 2. CONGRESSIONAL GOLD MEDAL.
(a) Award Authorized.--The Speaker of the House of Representatives
and the President pro tempore of the Senate shall make appropriate
arrangements for the award, on behalf of the Congress, of a single gold
medal of appropriate design in honor of the Tuskegee Airmen,
collectively, in recognition of their unique military record, which
inspired revolutionary reform in the Armed Forces.
(b) Design and Striking.--For the purposes of the award referred to
in subsection (a), the Secretary of the Treasury (hereafter in this Act
referred to as the ``Secretary'') shall strike the gold medal with
suitable emblems, devices, and inscriptions, to be determined by the
(c) Smithsonian Institution.--
(1) In general.--Following the award of the gold medal in
honor of the Tuskegee Airmen under subsection (a), the gold
medal shall be given to the Smithsonian Institution, where it
will be displayed as appropriate and made available for
(2) Sense of the congress.--It is the sense of the Congress
that the Smithsonian Institution should make the gold
[[Page 120 STAT. 325]]
medal received under paragraph (1) available for display
elsewhere, particularly at other appropriate locations
associated with the Tuskegee Airmen.
SEC. 3. DUPLICATE MEDALS.
Under such regulations as the Secretary may prescribe, the Secretary
may strike and sell duplicates in bronze of the gold medal struck under
section 2, at a price sufficient to cover the costs of the medals,
including labor, materials, dies, use of machinery, and overhead
SEC. 4. NATIONAL MEDALS.
Medals struck pursuant to this Act are national medals for purposes
of chapter 51 of title 31, United States Code.
SEC. 5. AUTHORIZATION OF APPROPRIATIONS; PROCEEDS OF SALE.
(a) Authorization of Appropriations.--There is authorized to be
charged against the United States Mint Public Enterprise Fund, an amount
not to exceed $30,000 to pay for the cost of the medals authorized under
(b) Proceeds of Sale.--Amounts received from the sale of duplicate
bronze medals under section 3 shall be deposited in the United States
Mint Public Enterprise Fund.
Approved April 11, 2006.
LEGISLATIVE HISTORY--H.R. 1259 (S. 392):
CONGRESSIONAL RECORD, Vol. 152 (2006):
Feb. 28, considered and passed House.
Mar. 27, considered and passed Senate.