(Extensions of Remarks - May 23, 2013)

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[Extensions of Remarks]
[Pages E735-E736]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office []



                           HON. NIKI TSONGAS

                            of massachusetts

                    in the house of representatives

                        Wednesday, May 22, 2013

  Ms. TSONGAS. Mr. Speaker, today I rise to recognize and pay tribute 
to Second Lieutenant Luther McIlwain, of the United States Army Air 
Corps' famed Tuskegee Airmen. Mr. McIlwain recently passed away at the 
age of 91 and I seek to honor him for his dedicated service to the 
United States as an airman escorting bombers during World War II.
  Lieutenant McIlwain was born in Blaine, South Carolina. His family 
moved to Lawrence, Massachusetts when he was two and he lived there 
until his graduation from Methuen High School in 1939. He attended 
college at Allen University in Columbia, South Carolina. Upon 
graduation, he sought to join the military in order to serve his 
country at a momentous time. On his first attempt, military recruiters 
ridiculed him for his desire to become a pilot. He was repeatedly told 
that he would not be able to fly because of his race. Undeterred, 
Luther enlisted in the Army Air Corps in 1943 and ultimately became an 
aviator with the famed Tuskegee Airmen.
  The Tuskegee Airmen were a group of soldiers who continuously placed 
their country's needs above their own, often in the face of extreme 
adversity. Due to the segregation of the military at the time, the 
Tuskegee Airmen were routinely subjected to racial discrimination from 
their fellow service members and civilians alike. This never dissuaded 
their devotion to their duty or their Nation. They chose to pursue 
difficult training, knowing it would ultimately place them in direct 
confrontation with enemy combatants. Luther McIlwain proudly stood as a 
member of this elite unit.
  Luther McIlwain fought in the skies above Europe and North Africa 
with bravery and distinction. He continued to place others first by 
serving as an instructor during the war, training nearly one thousand 
aviators in his unit.

[[Page E736]]

Shortly after WWII, Mr. McIlwain was honorably discharged. He went on 
in his great tradition of service after the war by serving 22 years on 
the New York City Police Department.
  In 2007 he was awarded the Congressional Gold Medal by President 
Bush. The ceremony was held in the U.S. Capitol, and Mr. McIlwain, 
along with nearly three hundred surviving members of the Tuskegee 
Airmen and their families, accepted the award on behalf of their 
departed colleagues.
  Today, we honor Second Lieutenant Luther McIlwain for his lifetime of 
exemplary service, especially during WWII as a member of the legendary 
Tuskegee Airmen, who, undeterred by the rampant racism and prejudice of 
the time, sought to place their country above all else and paved the 
way for desegregation of our Armed Forces.