Tags: California | Tuskegee | Airmen | Red | Tails | Lucas

Calif. Widow Recalls Glory of Tuskegee Airmen

Thursday, 12 Jan 2012 10:49 PM

Anticipation is building for the George Lucas movie "Red Tails," about the Tuskegee Airmen, a group of heroic black pilots in the segregated military during World War II.

But Evelyn Johnson doesn't need a movie to appreciate those pioneers, reports NBC Los Angeles.

Her husband, Raymond, was a Tuskegee Airman, drafted out of ROTC at Howard University.

"He liked flying, but he could not fly here,” she told NBC Los Angeles. “As a matter of fact, the Tuskegee Airmen, when they came back home, couldn't get jobs flying. They couldn't even fly freight.”

Raymond became a lawyer after the war, fought for civil rights in Los Angeles and raised a family with Evelyn. His time with the airmen became a distant memory.

"It wasn't a great big thing back when in the ’40s and ’50s," Johnson recalled. "Because when they came back home no one paid too much attention to it."

Attention was paid, however, in 2007 when President George W. Bush presented The Congressional Gold Medal to surviving Tuskegee Airmen. Raymond and Evelyn Johnson were there.

"They were so grateful that they were finally being recognized," Johnson told NBC Los Angeles.

More recognition will come Saturday, when Democratic Rep. Adam Schiff renames a post office in Pasadena for Oliver Goodall, a Tuskegee Airman from Pasadena who died in 2010.

"They were patriotic, they were courageous,” the congressman told NBC Los Angeles. “They had distinguished flying records during World War II, and they did all of this while combating racism and segregation at home.”

Raymond Johnson died Dec. 31 at the age of 89, three weeks shy of the debut of "Red Tails.”

Evelyn declares: “These are stories that should be known, and they should be heard. They're inspirational to young people. Particularly young, black people."

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