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The 99th FTS traces its historical lineage
Lt. Col. Gavin Marks, 99th Flying Training Squadron commander, and Ralph Sinkfield, President of the San Antonio Chapter, Tuskegee Airmen, Inc., stand by a Tuskegee Airman statue in the 99th FTS building at Joint Base San Antonio-Randolph Feb. 19, 2014. The 99th FTS traces its historical lineage to the 99th Pursuit Squadron, the first African American fighter squadron in the Army Air Force and the first to deploy overseas. (U.S. Air Force photo by Capt. Jennifer Richard)
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99th Flying Training Squadron...In the pursuit of excellence

Posted 2/25/2014   Updated 2/26/2014 Email story   Print story

    


by Capt. Ashley Walker
AETC Public Affairs


2/25/2014 - JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO - RANDOLPH, Texas  -- The story of the Tuskegee Airmen is an American tale of triumph over trials and tribulation.

The 99th Flying Training Squadron here keeps the legacy and heritage alive by continuing in the pursuit of excellence, many years after the groundbreaking Tuskegee Airmen paved the way.

"Many people throughout the Air Force are aware of the challenges faced by the Tuskegee Airmen," said Rick Sinkfield, President of the San Antonio Chapter, Tuskegee Airmen, Inc. "The Tuskegee Airmen saw it as an opportunity to demonstrate their patriotism and persevere--that story resonates with every Airman, every American."

On 19 March 1941, the 99th Pursuit Squadron was constituted as the first African American fighter squadron in the Army Air Force and the first to deploy overseas. The squadron supported Allied invasions of Sicily and Italy by conducting air raids on enemy ground assets, providing close air support to allied forces, and later bomber escort missions.

"The 99th was born in warfare as an 'experiment' to see if African American aviators were able to accomplish what was asked of them," said Lt. Col. Gavin Marks, 99th Flying Training Squadron commander. "It was created during a time of civil rights turmoil and turbulence in our nation."

According to Sinkfield, the Tuskegee Airmen certainly did succeed in the 'experiment.'

"The Tuskegee Airmen were successful because of their professionalism, skill and determination," said Sinkfield. "Many of the Tuskegee Airmen now call it the Tuskegee Experience."

After World War II, the squadron returned to the United States to fly training missions until it was inactivated in 1949.

The 99th Pursuit Squadron was re-designated in 1988 and reassigned as the 99th Flying Training Squadron to be the sole provider for T-1A Jayhawk pilot instructor training. Additionally, the squadron provides initial qualification training for instructor combat systems officers.

"The Airmen who come into our squadron are aware of our rich history and of the drive for excellence that Tuskegee Airmen embodied," said Marks. "We honor that heritage by being and instructing world-class instructor pilots and combat systems officers, being actively involved in the local community, supporting our local Tuskegee Airman Chapter, and seeking speaking opportunities, and honoring the legacy of this great squadron."

Sinkfield said knowing the legacy and the strength of airpower creates a sense of purpose within new and future Airmen.

"The Tuskegee Airmen proved that the strength of airpower can turn the tide of war and change the nation," Sinkfield said.

"The Tuskegee Airman story creates a bond with Airmen; it connects them to a very rich heritage of excellence and achievement despite all odds. It is an American story of perseverance and triumph," said Marks. "This is a story of success in our Air Force and we keep this Air Force legacy alive by continuing that pursuit of excellence."



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