Local woman says 'Red Tails' honors late husband's legacy - WSMV News 4

Local woman says 'Red Tails' honors late husband's legacy

Posted: Updated: Jan 20, 2012 06:38 PM

A movie more than two decades in the making hits big screens this weekend.

Red Tails tells the story on the Tuskegee Airmen, a crew of African American pilots during World War II.

And for a Brentwood woman, the film has a personal meaning.

The long-awaited action film from George Lucas showcases America's first all-black aerial combat unit, but for Katie White, Red Tails is more than a movie.

It is her late husband's legacy.

"I think those Tuskegee Airmen did the entire United States proud and of course they did their race proud," White said.

In 1942, Joseph White was one of the nearly 1,000 black men sent to Tuskegee, AL for flight training.

After nine months, he and about 400 others would be sent overseas to fight in World War II, but the Tuskegee Airmen would also fight racism.

"They did not think blacks had the intelligence or the dexterity to learn to fly, and if by chance they did, they didn't have the courage to go into battle," Katie White said.

But the men proved everyone wrong.

The airmen never lost a single U.S. bomber they were assigned to protect, destroyed 250 enemy aircraft and helped end segregation in the military.

Still, Joseph White never called himself a hero.

"He always felt like maybe he didn't give enough, because some people lost their lives," Katie White said.

White went on to earn a doctorate and worked as a physicist. And he introduced the first electronics curriculum in Metro Schools.

He died in 2007 at age 85.

White said her late husband would be proud to know the story of the airmen is now on the big screen, but she hopes that amid the high-flying stunts one message gets across.

"I hope people will understand that black men can do anything that any other man can do," she said.

Red Tails opened in theaters Friday, and White said she plans to see the movie this weekend.

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