EDGAR (WAOW)-- The Tuskegee Airmen were an elite group of fighter pilots who played a big part in World War ll. Two members of the all African American squadron traveled to central Wisconsin, to share their stories.
"I want to be a cadet. I want to go zoom up into the wild blue yonder," said Dr. Welton Taylor of his aspirations when joining the service. But when he enlisted, African Americans weren't allowed to join the US Air Force.
At the time, many believed African Americans were not fit for advanced combat positions. But Taylor told a group at Edgar High School Wednesday night, that he wouldn't take no for an answer.
Finally, after serving as in the horse artillery and paying for his own pilot training, he got a chance to fly with the Tuskegee Airmen. "There are only three things I like about flying: The take-off, the landing and everything in between," he said. Taylor flew in the South Pacific until the war ended.
Virgil Poole was also a member of the elite group, but kept his feet on the ground after being diagnosed with glaucoma. He trained airmen and plotted their courses through the sky.
"So I said, I'm down here, this is an opportunity I've never dreamed. And I said, I think I'll try this out and see how I like it," said Poole. He ended up loving it, and also worked interrogating pilots after they returned from their missions.
Both men said the color of their skin made serving difficult. "We had difficulty with the commanding generals and so forth, as to our ability. Even one general mentioned to the fact that it wasn't going to work. But we told them Oh, it will work. We'll make it work," said Poole.
Despite the difficulty of their journey, both said they are proud of the legacy they helped write, both on the ground and in the sky.
"The United States, the greatest nation in the world. And I praise god for giving me the privilege of serving it," said Poole.
Taylor added, "You get ready to do what you want to do, to the best of your ability, and the job will find you."