[109th Congress Public Law 213]
[From the U.S. Government Printing Office]

[DOCID: f:publ213.109]

[[Page 321]]


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Public Law 109-213
109th Congress

                                 An Act

 To award a congressional gold medal on behalf of the Tuskegee Airmen, 
  collectively, in recognition of their unique military record, which 
  inspired revolutionary reform in the Armed Forces. <<NOTE: Apr. 11, 
                         2006 -  [H.R. 1259]>> 

    Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the 
United States of America in Congress <<NOTE: 31 USC 5111 
note.>> assembled,


    The Congress finds the following:
            (1) In 1941, President Franklin D. Roosevelt overruled his 
        top generals and ordered the creation of an all Black flight 
        training program. President Roosevelt took this action one day 
        after the NAACP filed suit on behalf of Howard University 
        student Yancy Williams and others in Federal court to force the 
        Department of War to accept Black pilot trainees. <<NOTE: Yancy 
        Williams.>> Yancy Williams had a civilian pilot's license and 
        had earned an engineering degree. Years later, Major Yancy 
        Williams participated in an air surveillance project created by 
        President Dwight D. Eisenhower.
            (2) Due to the rigid system of racial segregation that 
        prevailed in the United States during World War II, Black 
        military pilots were trained at a separate airfield built near 
        Tuskegee, Alabama. They became known as the ``Tuskegee Airmen''.
            (3) The Tuskegee Airmen inspired revolutionary reform in the 
        Armed Forces, paving the way for full racial integration in the 
        Armed Forces. They overcame the enormous challenges of prejudice 
        and discrimination, succeeding, despite obstacles that 
        threatened failure.
            (4) From all accounts, the training of the Tuskegee Airmen 
        was an experiment established to prove that so-called 
        ``coloreds'' were incapable of operating expensive and complex 
        combat aircraft. Studies commissioned by the Army War College 
        between 1924 and 1939 concluded that Blacks were unfit for 
        leadership roles and incapable of aviation. Instead, the 
        Tuskegee Airmen excelled.
            (5) Overall, some 992 Black pilots graduated from the pilot 
        training program of the Tuskegee Army Air Field, with the last 
        class finishing in June 1946, 450 of whom served in combat. The 
        first class of cadets began in July 1941 with 13 airmen, all of 
        whom had college degrees, some with Ph.D. degrees, and all of 
        whom had pilot's licenses. <<NOTE: Benjamin O. Davis, Jr.>> One 
        of the graduates was Captain Benjamin O. Davis Jr., a United 
        States Military Academy graduate. Four aviation cadets were 
        commissioned as second lieutenants, and 5 received Army Air 
        Corps silver pilot wings.

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            (6) <<NOTE: Daniel James. Lucius Theus.>> That the 
        experiment achieved success rather than the expected failure is 
        further evidenced by the eventual promotion of 3 of these 
        pioneers through the commissioned officer ranks to flag rank, 
        including the late General Benjamin O. Davis, Jr., United States 
        Air Force, the late General Daniel ``Chappie'' James, United 
        States Air Force, our Nation's first Black 4-star general, and 
        Major General Lucius Theus, United States Air Force (retired).
            (7) 450 Black fighter pilots under the command of then 
        Colonel Benjamin O. Davis, Jr., fought in World War II aerial 
        battles over North Africa, Sicily, and Europe, flying, in 
        succession, P-40, P-39, P-47, and P-51 aircraft. These gallant 
        men flew 15,553 sorties and 1,578 missions with the 12th 
        Tactical Air Force and the 15th Strategic Air Force.
            (8) Colonel Davis later became the first Black flag officer 
        of the United States Air Force, retired as a 3-star general, and 
        was honored with a 4th star in retirement by President William 
        J. Clinton.
            (9) German pilots, who both feared and respected the 
        Tuskegee Airmen, called them the ``Schwartze Vogelmenschen'' (or 
        ``Black Birdmen''). White American bomber crews reverently 
        referred to them as the ``Black Redtail Angels'', because of the 
        bright red painted on the tail assemblies of their fighter 
        aircraft and because of their reputation for not losing bombers 
        to enemy fighters as they provided close escort for bombing 
        missions over strategic targets in Europe.
            (10) The 99th Fighter Squadron, after having distinguished 
        itself over North Africa, Sicily, and Italy, joined 3 other 
        Black squadrons, the 100th, the 301st, and the 302nd, designated 
        as the 332nd Fighter Group. They then comprised the largest 
        fighter unit in the 15th Air Force. From Italian bases, they 
        destroyed many enemy targets on the ground and at sea, including 
        a German destroyer in strafing attacks, and they destroyed 
        numerous enemy aircraft in the air and on the ground.
            (11) 66 of these pilots were killed in combat, while another 
        32 were either forced down or shot down and captured to become 
        prisoners of war. These Black airmen came home with 150 
        Distinguished Flying Crosses, Bronze Stars, Silver Stars, and 
        Legions of Merit, one Presidential Unit Citation, and the Red 
        Star of Yugoslavia.
            (12) Other Black pilots, navigators, bombardiers and crewman 
        who were trained for medium bombardment duty as the 477th Bomber 
        Group (Medium) were joined by veterans of the 332nd Fighter 
        Group to form the 477th Composite Group, flying the B-25 and P-
        47 aircraft. The demands of the members of the 477th Composite 
        Group for parity in treatment and for recognition as competent 
        military professionals, combined with the magnificent wartime 
        records of the 99th Fighter Squadron and the 332nd Fighter 
        Group, led to a review of the racial policies of the Department 
        of War.
            (13) In September 1947, the United States Air Force, as a 
        separate service, reactivated the 332d Fighter Group under the 
        Tactical Air command. Members of the 332d Fighter Group were 
        ``Top Guns'' in the 1st annual Air Force Gunnery Meet in 1949.

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            (14) For every Black pilot, there were 12 other civilian or 
        military Black men and women performing ground support duties. 
        Many of these men and women remained in the military service 
        during the post-World War II era and spearheaded the integration 
        of the Armed Forces of the United States.
            (15) Major achievements are attributed to many of those who 
        returned to civilian life and earned leadership positions and 
        respect as businessmen, corporate executives, religious leaders, 
        lawyers, doctors, educators, bankers, and political leaders.
            (16) <<NOTE: Tuskegee Airmen, Inc.>> A period of nearly 30 
        years of anonymity for the Tuskegee Airmen was ended in 1972 
        with the founding of Tuskegee Airmen, Inc., in Detroit, 
        Michigan. Organized as a non-military and nonprofit entity, 
        Tuskegee Airmen, Inc., exists primarily to motivate and inspire 
        young Americans to become participants in our Nation's society 
        and its democratic process, and to preserve the history of their 
            (17) The Tuskegee Airmen have several memorials in place to 
        perpetuate the memory of who they were and what they 
        accomplished, including--
                    (A) the Tuskegee Airmen, Inc., National Scholarship 
                Fund for high school seniors who excel in mathematics, 
                but need financial assistance to begin a college 
                    (B) a museum in historic Fort Wayne in Detroit, 
                    (C) Memorial Park at the Air Force Museum at Wright-
                Patterson Air Force Base in Dayton, Ohio;
                    (D) a statue of a Tuskegee Airman in the Honor Park 
                at the United States Air Force Academy in Colorado 
                Springs, Colorado; and
                    (E) a National Historic Site at Moton Field, where 
                primary flight training was performed under contract 
                with the Tuskegee Institute.


    (a) Award Authorized.--The Speaker of the House of Representatives 
and the President pro tempore of the Senate shall make appropriate 
arrangements for the award, on behalf of the Congress, of a single gold 
medal of appropriate design in honor of the Tuskegee Airmen, 
collectively, in recognition of their unique military record, which 
inspired revolutionary reform in the Armed Forces.
    (b) Design and Striking.--For the purposes of the award referred to 
in subsection (a), the Secretary of the Treasury (hereafter in this Act 
referred to as the ``Secretary'') shall strike the gold medal with 
suitable emblems, devices, and inscriptions, to be determined by the 
    (c) Smithsonian Institution.--
            (1) In general.--Following the award of the gold medal in 
        honor of the Tuskegee Airmen under subsection (a), the gold 
        medal shall be given to the Smithsonian Institution, where it 
        will be displayed as appropriate and made available for 
            (2) Sense of the congress.--It is the sense of the Congress 
        that the Smithsonian Institution should make the gold

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        medal received under paragraph (1) available for display 
        elsewhere, particularly at other appropriate locations 
        associated with the Tuskegee Airmen.


    Under such regulations as the Secretary may prescribe, the Secretary 
may strike and sell duplicates in bronze of the gold medal struck under 
section 2, at a price sufficient to cover the costs of the medals, 
including labor, materials, dies, use of machinery, and overhead 


    Medals struck pursuant to this Act are national medals for purposes 
of chapter 51 of title 31, United States Code.


    (a) Authorization of Appropriations.--There is authorized to be 
charged against the United States Mint Public Enterprise Fund, an amount 
not to exceed $30,000 to pay for the cost of the medals authorized under 
section 2.
    (b) Proceeds of Sale.--Amounts received from the sale of duplicate 
bronze medals under section 3 shall be deposited in the United States 
Mint Public Enterprise Fund.

    Approved April 11, 2006.


            Feb. 28, considered and passed House.
            Mar. 27, considered and passed Senate.