Tuskegee airman visits university, tells life story

Famed Tuskegee Airmen Milton Pitts Crenchaw spoke to the UCA community and surrounding schools Thursday about how his love of God has dictated his life and the accomplishments he’s achieved.
The Tuskegee Airmen were the first full crew of African American aviators in the United States during World War II and Crenchaw, 93, is one of only five of the airmen still alive today.
Arkansas Baptist history professor Edmond Davis introduced Crenchaw by telling about the airman’s life and the accomplishments he made.
“It is my pleasure to be able to work with such an inspiring man,” Davis said. “Not only has he done so much for the world with his work in the military but also with his faith, and that is what is truly inspiring.”
Davis said that Arkansas has a lot of history with aviation.
“Not only do we have Mr. Crenchaw from Little Rock, but we also have Mr. William T. Mattison from Conway who also flew with the airmen,” Davis said.
Crenchaw was the first African-American man to fly with the Central Flying Service and was a part of an elite squadron of the Tuskegee Airmen known as the Red Tails. The white pilots gave them this name because the squadron had a reputation of never losing a bomber in combat.
“We never lost a bomber in combat, however, we did lose a few on our way back to Germany,” Crenchaw said.
Director George Lucas is currently in the process of creating a film based off of the lives and missions of the Red Tails.
Being the first African-Americans to fly in combat alongside their white brothers did serve its challenges Crenchaw said. “White soldiers may have had many advantages over us but they didn’t have rhythm and that’s what mattered.”
When asked if there was anything in his career that he would change, Crenchaw said there was a lot that has happened that he would like to change including, the Titanic, but that was God’s way and it was okay with him.
Crenchaw comes from a family that has its own background of historical significance.
Crenchaw’s father, Joseph Crenchaw, is responsible for bringing the NAACP to Little Rock. He and his former student Daisy Bates were also crucial to the Little Rock nine.
After returning from war, Crenchaw worked in his father’s tailoring company in Little Rock and was one of two African-American crop-dusters in Arkansas in the late ‘40s and ‘50s.
Crenchaw has received several awards for his dedication to his country, including the 2007 Congressional Gold Medal which was bestowed to civilians in World War II.
In 2009 Crenchaw was invited to the Presidential Inauguration and was the 2011 guest speaker at the Wings of Honor in Pocahontas, Ark.
Though Crenchaw has been retired for 30 years, he still travels around the country, speaking to communities of how his Christian principals have fostered him into all that he is and how God has been the basis behind all of his accomplishments, but still has time to teach Sunday school every week.
He said that to man, his accomplishments may be just that, but to God he is simply doing the work that he has asked him to do.

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