Tuskegee Airman

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Catherine C. Roberts
  • 175th Wing Public Affairs
The Tuskegee Airmen served as the first African-American unit in the Army during the 1940's. Born in Charleston, W.Va on June 3, 1916, Edward Henry Hale, father of Senior Master Sgt. Frederic T. Hale, Small Air Terminal Superintendant, 135th Logistics Readiness Squadron, reached the rank of Staff Sgt. as a member of this elite group.
After the military drafted Hale into the Armed Forces he served his country during World War II. His duty took him first to Northern Africa and then to Italy. His combination of stories and military pictures created memories for his son. But it's the discipline his father instilled in him Sgt. Hale believes is "without a doubt," the most important influence in his career. 

"All I had was stories that he had told us about certain situations," said Hale. "We would go through his scrapbook and look at his pictures." A picture of a P-51 fighter aircraft accident in Italy provoked a story that Hale refers to as his father's most famous.
"It came in, in bad inclement weather and flipped and flipped over, landed upside down and he and his crew were standing out there, all around this flipped over P-51 saying, 'we're going to have to fix this', reciting his father's words from decades earlier.
He remembers looking through the various pictures of his father and his crew surrounding the dismantled plane. 

"So you can see this aircraft frame, fuselage and wings sitting on a set of 55 gallon drums and they're working on them," said Hale. "When we'd go through these pictures, there would be more than one person in the picture."
Sgt. Hale remembered questioning his father as a young boy.
"Where were you dad?" he asked while trying to locate him in one of the photographs.
Sgt. Hale recalled his father pointing out his position in the picture. He showed his young son the man who stood in the middle of the photograph, out in front of the P-51 and all the other men. He could tell his father must be in an important position. He later learned the significance of a crew chief. 

"That was to me, was probably the part where, you know, I want to be a leader of men," Sgt. Hale remembers thinking. "My old man, he was a leader in a way, in a sense, that picture stood out even when I was a child, among any other photos."
The photos and stories created the impetus for Sgt. Hale's patriotic duty. But it's his father's discipline he credits with guiding him successfully through his military career.
Sgt. Hale stated his father didn't use the word "discipline", but that he taught through example. His father didn't tell him how to carry himself as a man, but showed and reminded him through his actions. 

He continues in his father's footsteps by passing on lessons he learned to his own three sons. 

"They don't know it yet, but when they get to be older and they get to be men, they will appreciate the discipline." "My old man was a disciplinarian and it took me becoming a man to appreciate his discipline. His discipline just carried on through my whole life and I'm sure that's what got me through the military."