The movie Red Tails, the story of the Tuskegee Airmen, is generating a lot of buzz.
A local Tuskegee airman shared his story on the struggles the heroes faced.
Cuba Gooding Jr. and Terrence Howard star in Red Tails, the true story of the Tuskegee Airmen, our country's first African-American fighter group, who served with distinction in World War II and paved the way for a full integration of America's armed forces.
Beverly Dunjill, 84, is one of the 962 pilots the Tuskegee program produced. He grew up in Englewood, where he built model airplanes and toy gliders and envisioned the day when he could learn to fly.
"As far back as 3 years old I wanted to be a pilot. Where I got the idea from, I don't have the foggiest notion," Dunjill said.
Dunjill’s dreams became reality, but not without tremendous sacrifice. He said the discrimination depicted in Red Tails barely touches the surface. For Dunjill, the memory of the exhausting and at times demeaning 13-month training program still stings.
Dunjill said they were not treated with respect, but discipline got him through it.
"Determination, persistence and anger,” Dunjill said. “You tell yourself, because you don't say it out loud, ‘to hell with you, I'm going to prove to you that I can do this.’"
They did it all right. Dunjill didn't graduate in time to fly in World War II; his proving ground came in Korea, where he flew 100 combat missions and earned the distinguished Flying Cross.
This month, Ebony Magazine takes a close look at the new film, its stars and the men whose story they tell, including one Dunjill. Don't try to tell him he's a hero or a pioneer, though; he doesn't want to hear it.
"People call us heroes. At the time, we were thinking nothing more than survival. Hell, we're not heroes. We had a job to do and we did it. We did it damn well, but we had a job to do and we did that job," Dunjill said.