TAI hosts event empowering future aviators

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Alexander Merchak
  • 60th Air Mobility Wing Public Affairs

TRAVIS AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. – Leaders of the Lee A. Archer Jr. Chapter of Tuskegee Airman Inc. hosted a youth outreach event Nov. 20, 2021, to inspire young people to pursue careers in aviation, aerospace science and technology.

The event educated a young community of six grade students about the legacy of Tuskegee Airmen and the significant accomplishments of African Americans who participated in the original Tuskegee flight experiment.

The students toured Travis AFB’s flight line, a KC-10 Extender, simulated a flight in a KC-10 flight simulator, and finished with a lesson at the Heritage Museum.

“We held this event today to fulfil our mission of inspiring our community’s youth,” said Nathaniel Clayton, President of the Lee A. Archer Chapter. “The impact that a tour like this could have on a young person could inspire a passion they never thought about, which is what we are here to do.”

According to TAI, their mission is to honor the accomplishments and perpetuate the history of African Americans serving in the United States Army Air Corp and Air Force during World War II. They refer to these brave men as the Tuskegee Airmen to include pilots, air crew, ground crew and operations support.

“I’m motivated to educate our next generation of aviators to understand their capabilities, much like those Tuskegee Airmen who made this opportunity capable for those of us serving today,” said Clayton. “If kids are not getting information from their home or in their environment, how else are they going to get it?”

This event gave the students an opportunity to speak with Airmen within Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics career fields and learn more about available TAI resources such as scholarships to the local and base community.

Tech. Sgt. Terrell Cole, 60th Maintenance Group facilities program manager and vice president of the Lee A. Archer Jr. Chapter says by preparing today’s youth through STEM tours and scholarships, we are creating an evolved understanding to the fundamentals of the Air Force and the progressive strides our service makes to remain the world’s greatest and strongest Air Force.

Cole further explained that the program aims to reach families who could benefit the most.

“A lot of people just can’t afford school or books; this scholarship will have a positive effect on their future to equip them with what they need to succeed,” said Cole.

Each chapter can submit five applicants for a scholarship that is normally $1,500, each along with five $1,000 tuition assistance fund offers annually.

“TAI is an organization that exists to carry on the memory of the Tuskegee Airmen – to keep their legacy alive,” said Cole. “The lesson we learned from the Tuskegee Airmen is that no matter what the odds are, we can overcome them.”

Cole said the Tuskegee Airmen are a significant reason why he serves today.

“We need to remember the Tuskegee Airmen because they proved that you don’t have to believe any other’s opinion about you,” said Clayton. “To me, it’s taking their example and using it today to show kids that you don’t have to be defeated, there are opportunities out there.”

For more information on how to get involved with the TAI program and the Lee A. Archer Jr. Chapter visit https://tuskegeeairmentravisafb.org/ and https://www.tuskegeeairmen.org