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JBA hosts 2011 Tuskegee Airmen Inc. National Convention Youth Day
Brian Simmons, 11th grade student from Surrattsville High School Clinton, Md., tries on the 85-pound explosive ordinance disposal bomb suit during the 2011 Tuskegee Airmen, Inc. National Convention Youth Day at Joint Base Andrews, Md., Aug. 4. Students in grades 8-12 came here to interact with service members and aviation personnel. This year marks the 70th anniversary of America’s first black pilots and support personnel, the Tuskegee Airmen. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Nichelle Anderson)
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Youth Day kicks-off at JBA as Tuskegee Convention continues

Posted 8/4/2011   Updated 8/8/2011 Email story   Print story


by Airman 1st Class Bahja J. Jones
11th Wing Public Affairs

8/4/2011 - JOINT BASE ANDREWS, Md.  -- Aviation pioneers and aviators of tomorrow came together as the Tuskegee Airmen, Inc. 40th National Convention continued with Youth Day Aug. 4, kicked off on Joint Base Andrew's flightline.

"The purpose of youth day is to give the young men and women exposure to careers in aviation and see the diversity within career fields," said Yvonne McGee, East Coast Chapter Tuskegee Airmen, Inc. co-chair and National Convention Planning Committee for Youth Day. "It gets them thinking about the future."

Approximately 360 students, 8th through 12th grade, were given the opportunity to interact with aviation and aerospace professionals, see static displays, participate in activities, and meet other students who have a shared interest in aviation.

"Ask the questions; it's your future," said Lt. Col Eric Jenkins, 459th Operations Support Flight commander, as he urged the students to take full advantage and talk to the various representatives of each organization.

The students viewed an 11th Security Forces Squadron K-9 unit demonstration, before taking part in a round robin featuring the Army PT-13D Stearman bi-plane, used as the primary trainer in Tuskegee, Ala. and flown by original Tuskegee Airmen.

"Despite racism and all other odds against them, the Tuskegee Airmen not only met the standard, but they exceeded it," said Captain Mather Quy, 12th Reconnaissance Squadron RQ-4 Global Hawk pilot from Beale Air Force Base, Calif. "This is a great example to today's youth that they have the opportunity to accomplish anything they want, as long as they set goals and work hard to achieve them."

The students also toured several Joint Base Andrews airframes, including the 89th Airlift Wing's C-40, the 459th Air Refueling Wing's KC-135, and the 1st Helicopter Squadron's UH-1N Huey. There were also demonstrations by the 11th Wing Explosive Ordinance Disposal team, and the opportunity to try on security forces gear and test the features on an 11th Civil Engineer Squadron fire truck.

"It's really interesting, especially for those who haven't been exposed to aviation career fields," said Cadet 1st Lt. Earl Espanta, Oxon Hill High School Junior Reserve Officers' Training Corps. Espanta is attending ground school through the Tuskegee Airmen East Coast Chapter in pursuit of his flight license and aspires to be an Air Force pilot.

At noon, the students left Joint Base Andrews, heads swimming with new aviation knowledge, and headed to the Gaylord Hotel, Md., where youth day continued with an opportunity to personally meet and talk with the Tuskegee Airmen.

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