Illinois General Assembly - Full Text of HJR0075
Illinois General Assembly

Previous General Assemblies

Full Text of HJR0075  99th General Assembly




HJ0075LRB099 12297 GRL 35483 r


2    WHEREAS, Interstate 57 is a major thoroughfare in the
3United States interstate system of roads which, in part, is
4situated through sections of the south side of Chicago and
5through the City of Rantoul, tracing along the route of the
6former Illinois Central railroad line; and
7    WHEREAS, The "Tuskegee Airmen" is the popular name of a
8group of African American pilots who fought in World War II;
9formally, they were the 332nd Fighter Group and the 477th
10Bombardment Group of the U.S. Army Air Corps; the Tuskegee
11Airmen were dedicated, determined young men who enlisted to
12become America's first black military airmen; and
13    WHEREAS, The Tuskegee Airmen were the first African
14American military aviators in the United States Armed Forces;
15during World War II, African Americans in many U.S. states were
16still subject to racist Jim Crow laws; the American military
17was no exception, as it too was racially segregated along with
18much of the federal government; the Tuskegee Airmen were
19subject to racial discrimination, both within and outside the
20Army; despite these adversities, they trained and flew with
21distinction; each of the men possessed a strong personal desire
22to serve the United States to the best of his ability; and



HJ0075- 2 -LRB099 12297 GRL 35483 r

1    WHEREAS, By the spring of 1944 the all-black 332nd Fighter
2Group had been sent overseas with three fighter squadrons: the
3100th, 301st and 302nd; these squadrons were moved to mainland
4Italy, where the 99th Fighter Squadron, assigned to the group
5on May 1, 1944, joined them on June 6, at Rarnitelli Airfield,
6near Termoli, on the Adriatic coast; from Rarnitelli, the 332nd
7Fighter Group escorted the Fifteenth Air Force heavy strategic
8bombing raids into Czechoslovakia, Austria, Hungary, Poland,
9and Germany; flying escort for heavy bombers, the 332nd earned
10an impressive combat record; the Allies called these airmen
11"Red Tails" or "Red-Tail Angels" because of the distinctive
12crimson paint predominately applied on the tail section of the
13unit's aircraft; these assignments marked the first aerial
14combat missions ever carried out by African American pilots;
16    WHEREAS, 996 pilots in total were trained in Tuskegee from
171941 to 1946, approximately 445 were deployed overseas, and 150
18Airmen lost their lives in accidents or combat; the blood cost
19included 66 pilots killed in action or accidents, and 32 fallen
20into captivity as prisoners of war; the Tuskegee Airmen were
21credited by higher commands with the following
23        15,533 combat sorties and 1578 missions;
24        112 German aircraft destroyed in the air and another
25    150 on the ground;



HJ0075- 3 -LRB099 12297 GRL 35483 r

1        950 railcars, trucks, and other motor vehicles
2    destroyed;
3        One destroyer sunk by P-47 machine gun fire;
4        A nearly perfect record of not losing U.S. bombers; and
5    WHEREAS, Awards and decorations awarded for valor and
6performance included:
7        Three Distinguished Unit Citations (99th Pursuit
8    Squadron: May 30-June 11, 1943 for the capture of
9    Pantelleria, Italy; 99th Fighter Squadron: May 12-14, 1944
10    for successful air strikes against Monte Cassino, Italy;
11    and 332d Fighter Group: March 24, 1945 for the longest
12    bomber escort mission of World War II);
13        At least one Silver Star;
14        An estimated 150 Distinguished Flying Crosses;
15        14 Bronze Stars;
16        744 Air Medals;
17        8 Purple Hearts; and
18    WHEREAS, After the end of World War II, black airmen
19returned to the United States and once again faced racism and
20hatred, despite their outstanding service record; and
21    WHEREAS, These brave men deserve to be recognized by the
22State of Illinois for their service to their country during
23wartime; and



HJ0075- 4 -LRB099 12297 GRL 35483 r

1    WHEREAS, Kentucky became the first state to honor the
2Tuskegee Airmen when it named U.S. Interstate 75 the "Tuskegee
3Airmen Memorial Trail" in 2010; and
4    WHEREAS, Rantoul is the location of Chanute Field, where
5the first unit of the Tuskegee Airmen, the 99th Pursuit
6Squadron, was activated on March 19, 1941; over 250 enlisted
7men were trained at Chanute in aircraft ground support trades
8before all operations were moved to Tuskegee, Alabama;
9therefore, be it
12SENATE CONCURRING HEREIN, that we designate the section of
13Interstate 57 between Exit 250 at U.S. Route 136 in Rantoul and
14Exit 358 at Wentworth Avenue in Chicago as the Tuskegee Airmen
15Memorial Trail; and be it further
16    RESOLVED, That the Illinois Department of Transportation
17is requested to erect at suitable locations, consistent with
18State and federal regulations, appropriate plaques or signs
19giving notice of the name of the Tuskegee Airmen Memorial
20Trail; and be it further
21    RESOLVED, That a suitable copy of this resolution be



HJ0075- 5 -LRB099 12297 GRL 35483 r

1presented to the Secretary of the Illinois Department of
2Transportation and the Chicago "DODO" Chapter of the Tuskegee
3Airmen, Incorporated.