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Tuskegee Airman visit Bolling
Ezra Hill, Tuskegee Airman, speaks with Chief Master Sergeant Rodney McKinley, chief master sergeant of the Air Force, Jan. 20 at the Bolling Club. More than 180 Tuskegee Airmen and their families gathered for a breakfast and security clearing at the club, before being bused downtown for the 2009 inaugural events. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Tim Chacon)
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Presidential Inauguration brings Tuskegee Airmen to Bolling

Posted 1/20/2009   Updated 1/20/2009 Email story   Print story

    


by Senior Airmen R. Michael Longoria
11th Wing Public Affairs


1/20/2009 - BOLLING AFB, D.C.  -- One-hundred and eighty-eight Tuskegee Airmen arrived at the Bolling Club Jan. 20 for breakfast, music and conversation before attending the Presidential Inauguration. 

"The event here was very humbling," said Chief Master Sergeant Rodney J. McKinley, chief master sergeant of the Air Force. "It presented us a tremendous opportunity to remind everyone why we wear this uniform and defend the constitution: So, anyone in America can rise up and be what they want to be." 

The Tuskegee Airmen entered the Bolling Club and were seated by Airmen from the United States Air Force Honor Guard. 

"Our job was to help ensure they (the Tuskegee Airmen) found a seat and were comfortable," said Airman 1st Class Jon Van Deusen, Honor Guard. "It's an honor to help out during the inauguration. Also, it's great to meet the Tuskegee Airmen, they were pioneers." 

After the Tuskegee Airmen found their seats, they were served breakfast prepared by the 11th Services Division, who also provided 400 box lunches, that would later be feasted upon during inauguration activities. 

"We took over this project about a month ago," said John Robinette, 11th SVS director. "We're glad to help out with this event. We also assisted some of the Tuskegee Airmen with lodging arrangements for the inauguration." 

As the Tuskegee Airmen enjoys their meal, they listened to music played by the United States Air Force Band Strolling Strings, stationed at Bolling. 

After the Tuskegee Airmen finished breakfast, the 11th Security Forces members screened the Airmen before the Airmen headed downtown for either the swearing in ceremony or inaugural parade. 

"This is a big event," said Staff Sgt. Amy Lieth, 11th SFS. "Security Forces is glad to help out." 

This isn't the Tuskegee Airmen's first visit to Bolling, they came to Bolling March 28, 2007 for a ceremony in which the "Tuskegee Room" was dedicated at the Bolling Club.
For some Tuskegee Airmen, Bolling has even more memories. Donald E. Elder, an original Tuskegee Airman, flew into Bolling 60 years ago for another historic presidential inauguration. 

"On Jan. 19, 1949, I walked down Pennsylvania Avenue during the parade for President Harry S. Truman," said Mr. Elder. "It was the first integrated parade. We flew into Bolling and stayed at Andrews Air Force Base (Md.) as we prepared for the inauguration."

Team Bolling worked together to ensure that the Tuskegee Airmen and their families were well fed and ready to travel downtown to make the most of the inauguration day events.

In addition to Bolling's support for the breakfast event, more than 400 Airmen from the Air Force District of Washington particapated in the 2009 Presidential Inauguration.



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