Soaring to Glory: A Tuskegee Airman’s Firsthand Account of WWII is the remarkable true story of Lt. Col. Harry Stewart Jr., one of the last surviving Tuskegee Airmen of World War II. Despite being told as a teenager, that he, as a “colored” person, could not become a pilot, Stewart joined the famed 332nd Fighter Group (the Red Tails), flew 43 combat missions, took down three Nazis planes over Austria, and was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross. Unlike white pilots, Stewart and other Tuskegee flyers faced the extra danger that if they were shot down over enemy territory they could not hide in plain sight with the population or expect to live. Tragically, one of Stewart’s friends was shot down, captured, and lynched by a racist mob. After his service, Lt. Col. Stewart wanted to fly commercial planes, but due to racial segregation and prejudices, he was forbidden to fly commercially postwar.
Today is his 95th birthday. For his birthday, Regnery Publishing is asking a favor from any African-American pilots:
"Can you post a photo of yourself in your pilot’s uniform with the hashtag #SoaringtoGlory?" the conservative book publishing company asked on their Facebook today.
Seeing black men and women fly commercial airplanes makes Lt. Col. Stewart very proud.
For example, after recently meeting a black female Delta Airlines pilot, Harry teared up and said, “I guess there’s always something in the future that can make you really happy.”
"We were so proud to publish Harry’s story in the book #SoaringToGlory, and we’d like to make him happy for his birthday," Regnery said.
“Colored people aren’t accepted as airline pilots.” The “negro type has not the proper reflexes to make a first-class fighter pilot.” These were the degrading sentiments that faced eighteen-year-old Lt. Col. Stewart Jr. as he journeyed in a segregated rail car to Army basic training in Mississippi in 1943. But two years later, the twenty-year-old African American from New York was at the controls of a P-51, prowling for Luftwaffe aircraft at five thousand feet over the Austrian countryside. By the end of World War II, he had done something that nobody could take away from him: He had become an American hero.
Happy Birthday America and happy birthday, Lt. Col. Stewart Jr.! Thank you for your service.
Author's note: Regnery is a sister-company of Townhall Media.