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Tue, Jan 17, 2012

Tuskegee Airman Honored During Air Force Band Ceremonial Brass Concert

Orlando, Florida Performance Of 'Red Tail Skirmish' Salutes Retired Air Force Chief Master Sgt. Richard R. Hall, Jr.

A member of the Tuskegee Airmen was honored during a concert by the United States Air Force Band's Ceremonial Brass January 14 at The First Academy Faith Hall in Orlando, FL. Retired Air Force Chief Master Sgt. Richard R. Hall, Jr., a Winter Park, FL, native, was attending Xavier University of Louisiana in New Orleans when he was called to active duty in 1942 to serve with the Tuskegee Airmen.

The Tuskegee Airmen were the first African American military aviators in the U.S. armed forces who trained in Tuskegee, Ala. Serving during World War II in the Army Air Corps, these Airmen were subject to racial discrimination. Despite these adversities, the Tuskegee Airmen -- proudly referred to as "Red Tails" or "Red Tail Angels" because of the distinctive crimson paint on the tail section of their aircraft -- trained and flew with distinction, receiving the Congressional Gold Medal for valor and performance.
 
The band's theme of the winter tour is "American Song and Cinema." The tour features a new work commissioned by the band and dedicated to the Tuskegee Airmen entitled "Red Tail Skirmish" by composer Bruce Yurko. "Red Tail Skirmish" is a musical epic that depicts the tension, thrill and excitement of an aerial dogfight through a fast-paced work for the brass and percussion ensemble. Following the work, Hall, Tuskegee Airmen Gen. Daniel "Chappie" James, Jr., chapter president Montoria "Tony" Hubbard and chapter recording secretary Judie Gilliam were presented score sheets for "Red Tail Skirmish."
 
A member of the "Red Tails," Hall was trained in munitions and aircraft maintenance. He deployed to both North Africa and Italy during World War II. Following the war, Hall was stationed in Ohio at the 332nd Fighter Wing at Lockbourne Air Force Base, which is now Rickenbacker Air National Guard Base, serving under the command of then-Col. Benjamin O. Davis, another Tuskegee Airman. Hall said he remembers the day Davis told them the military would integrate blacks into the service. "Colonel Davis had us in the theater, the officers and senior enlisted," Hall said. "He said, 'We're going to integrate and go to the four corners of the world.'"

File Photo

Even though the military integrated, it took time for the Airmen to be accepted. Hall said the unit flew an operation that called for them to fly from South Carolina to the Gulf of Mexico. The unit had to divert because they were not allowed to fly over Georgia or arm their weapons until they were across the Gulf of Mexico because they were black. Hall soon found himself in another war zone, this time in Korea. Hall was at Kimpo Air Base--or "K-14"--when the Airmen had to abandon the base, watching it burn as they took off. After getting promoted to chief master sergeant, Hall continued to serve through the Vietnam War, when he retired in 1973. He said many of those memories came back as he watched the Ceremonial Brass perform in front of hundreds. "This was truly outstanding," Hall said. "It brought back a lot of memories." He said it was also a tremendous sense of pride to watch black Airmen perform in the band, something that wasn't possible when he first joined.
 
The band's program also featured a Glenn Miller Medley entitled "Miller Time," arranged by former Ceremonial Brass member David Bandman, a retired master sergeant. The group also played a medley of works by film composer and former Air Force Band member John Williams entitled "Epic Themes." (Pictured from right, retired Chief Master Sgt. Richard R. Hall Jr., an original Tuskegee Airman, retired Lt. Col. Montoria Hubbard, and Col. Gina Humble)

FMI: www.af.mil

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