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Tuskegee Airman Pearl Harbor Day ceremony Camden NJ

Tuskegee Airman salutes fallen at Pearl Harbor Day remembrance. Eugene Richardson, one of the last surviving pilots, honored at historic site.

On Wednesday, December 7, 2023, the 82nd anniversary of the 1941 Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, a local Tuskegee Airman paid tribute to the fallen at a Pearl Harbor Day remembrance event in Camden, New Jersey. This annual event has been held every year since 1994 to honor the 2,403 U.S. servicemembers and civilians who lost their lives in the attack, which also saw the sinking of two U.S. Navy battleships and the destruction of 188 aircraft.

Eugene Richardson, one of the few surviving pilots from the Tuskegee Airmen, left his home on Pine Street in Camden to join the Army Air Corps as a teenager. At just 17 years old, he became a pre-aviation cadet and went on to train as a fighter pilot. Despite not seeing air combat due to the end of the fighting in Europe shortly after his commission, Richardson fulfilled his childhood dream of flying an airplane.

During World War II, the Tuskegee Airmen were the first African American military aviators in the U.S. armed forces. They were known for their exceptional skill in protecting bomber pilots from enemy fighters, never losing a bomber and shooting down 112 enemy aircraft. Richardson shared the story of how their expertise led to them being asked to protect white bomber pilots, showcasing the respect and recognition they earned for their abilities.

On this solemn day, Richardson visited Butler Cemetery, the final resting place of several African American veterans, including members of the U.S. Colored Troops in the Civil War. In a poignant moment, he saluted as a bugler played "Taps," and the flag was lowered to half-staff. The event also saw the announcement of a scholarship in Richardson's name, a fitting tribute to his service and sacrifice.

Lt. Col. Rev. Floyd White, a retired Army and Air Force chaplain and the pastor of Woodland Avenue Presbyterian Church, led the remembrance event, emphasizing the importance of recognizing and honoring those who have served and sacrificed for their country. Richardson, who received the Congressional Medal of Honor from President George W. Bush in 2007, embodies the spirit of dedication and bravery that we commemorate on Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day.

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