CAMDEN, N.J. (CBS) — At the Pearl Harbor Day observance that took place in Camden, New Jersey, on Wednesday, a local Tuskegee Airman paid tribute to those who had passed away.
It has been 82 years since the Japanese attack on the United States in 1941, which resulted in the deaths of 2,403 civilians and service men of the United States, the sinking of two battleships of the United States Navy, and the destruction of 188 aircraft.
Beginning in 1994, the yearly observance of Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day has been observed.
Eugene Richardson, who is now one of the few pilots from the Tuskegee Airmen who have survived, left his home on Pine Street in Camden when he was a teenager and joined the Army Air Corps. At the age of 17, he became a pre-aviation cadet.
He went on to receive training and eventually became a qualified fighter pilot; however, he was never able to experience air combat because the fighting in Europe came to a stop two months after he was commissioned.
The statement was made by Richardson on Wednesday. “It was a dream come true for me because ever since I was a little kid, I wanted to fly an airplane,” he added.
Over the course of World War II, the Tuskegee Airmen were responsible for protecting bomber pilots from other fighters who would attempt to shoot them down. They never lost a single bomber. They downed 112 airplanes belonging to the enemy.
“When they saw how good our guys were, they then asked our guys to protect the white boys and the bombers,” Richardson said in an interview with Ukee Washington of CBS News Philadelphia in the previous year.
— Brad Nau (@storyrd) December 6, 2023
They were the first African American military aviators to serve in the United States Armed Forces, and they were the Airmen.
Richardson was stationed at Butler Cemetery on Wednesday, which is the final resting place of a number of African American veterans, including those who served in the United States Colored Troop during the Civil War.
At the same time that a brisk breeze was blowing through the historic location, Richardson saluted and a bugler played “Taps.” After that, the flag was lowered to stand at half-staff.
“All gave some, some gave all,” said Lt. Col. Rev. Floyd White, who is the pastor of Woodland Avenue Presbyterian Church and a retired chaplain from the Army and Air Force.
“We give thanks to God for those who are present, especially those who have performed their duties to our nation with such dedication. White stated that today is a day to honor those individuals who sacrificed their lives on December 7, 1941, at Pearl Harbor.
After that, White and the Woodland Community Development Corporation made the announcement that a scholarship will be established in Richardson’s honor.
In 2007, President George W. Bush presented Richardson with the Congressional Medal of Honor for his dedication to the country.