|UC man’s great-uncle took flight Tuskegee Airmen’s exploits documented in film |
|Posted: Wednesday, February 15, 2012 10:00 pm |
| By KEVIN BOWDEN |
The year was 1942. World War II.
A group of five dedicated airmen were the first African-Americans to complete advanced pilot training at the Tuskegee Army Airfield in Tuskegee, Ala. They went on to become known as the heroic Tuskegee Airmen on which the major motion picture, “Red Tails,” is based.
Bobby Woody of Union City enjoys watching the movie featuring the exploits of his great-uncle, Charlie DeBow of Indianapolis.
Second Lt. Charles H. DeBow was one of the five airmen who made history in World War II as black fighter pilots.
Woody, who is known by his friends as “Sarge,” was animated in expressing his emotions as he watched the movie about his great-uncle and the other fighter pilots.
“They had to beg to get into combat,” Woody said as he watched a scene from the movie.
“C’mon DeBow, get in there,” he said as encouragement to the actor portraying his great-uncle.
“That DeBow was a cool dude. They called him ‘Easy,’” Woody said with a hearty laugh that seemed to last a minute or two.
His home on North Clover Street is a haphazardly organized collection of his family’s history that dates back to the days of slavery in 1826. He has a detailed family tree that shows his roots going back to Rockingham, N.C., and documents when his ancestors were sold as slaves in Carroll County.
Although Woody didn’t know his great-uncle Charlie DeBow all that well, he did say when the relative came to Union City to visit family, he stayed in the house where Sarge now lives.
“He came here as a boy,” Woody said. “Charlie DeBow stayed right here in this house.”
Throughout the interview about his great-uncle, scenes from the movie played on in the background, and Woody kept an eye on the movie with an obvious sense of pride.
“That DeBow was something,” Woody said as he watched a scene from the movie where his great-uncle and a fellow fighter pilot heroically wiped out a German airfield.
“He broke the back of the Luftwaffe,” Woody loudly proclaims at the television screen.
One of the documents featuring his great-uncle features the headline: “TUSKEGEE AIRMEN INTEGRATED THE SKIES.”
In World War II, black Americans had to fight for the right to fight, the document explains in part.
“When World War II began, the U.S. Army was totally segregated and Blacks were barred from the Army Air Corps and other elite units,” the document states
The “Red Tails” movie tells the story of how five black airmen changed military history, according to Woody. Published in The Messenger 2.15.12