KENT—There are only about 60 Tuskegee Airmen still living and about half a dozen of them live here in Washington State.
One of them is Lt. Col. Bill Holloman. Holloman says, "We started out in 1941 as an experiment because the War Department didn't believe we could fly. Didn't think we were smart enough, that we didn't have the coordination."
At 85-years old Lt. Col. Holloman is one of only a handful of surviving Tuskegee Airmen.
A select group of young black men in the 1940s who shared a dream to fly for their country.
Lt. Col. Holloman says, "Our contribution? Like every other fighter pilot that was in the war... we were doing our part as best we could."
Unlike their white counterparts, the Tuskegee Airmen fought on two fronts.
The fought the enemy in the skies over Europe and Northern Africa and in the U.S. they fought against racism in a society that treated them as less than human.
Q13 Fox News Reporter James Lynch asked Holloman "how were you able to... you and your pilots able to..." "Put the racism aside?" Holloman responded. "Yes" Lynch said. Holloman jumped in again, "and do the job?" "Yes" Lynch said. Holloman quickly replied "the love of aviation."
That love of aviation led to unparalleled success in the cockpit.
Tuskegee Airmen flew the P-51 Mustang, easily recognizable by its unique red tail.
They ran bomber escort missions to discourage enemy fighter pilots from attacking the bigger slower planes.
Their claim to fame -- not losing a single bomber to enemy fire in more than 200 combat missions.
Holloman says, "They knew we were black and they knew we were good."
Still, Holloman says their achievements went unnoticed back home until well after the way was over.
Holloman says, "I've landed at locations in the south and somebody would ask, Where's the pilot? And I would say well I'm the pilot. No you're not the pilot."))
Lt. Colonel Bill Holloman has a lot of memories. One of his favorites is flying president Eisenhower.
Another is the invitation he received to President Obama's inauguration.
He never thought he'd live to see a black Commander And Chief.
He says he's seen the worst of times and the best of times and still finds it difficult to describe how that makes him feel.
Holloman says, "Times cause change but it was a long time almost the end of his first year in office that if you asked me that question I couldn't answer without crying and I'm not an emotional person. But I was so proud of the American people that night that they could elect who they thought was the best man for the job."
In spite of his color.
Breaking down barriers and changing minds and hearts... the way the Tuskegee Airmen did nearly 70 years ago.
Lieutenant Colonel Holloman and other surviving Tuskegee Airmen from around the country will take part in a panel discussion Sunday afternoon from 2 to 3:30 at the Museum of Flight.
They will talk about their experiences flying combat missions during World War II.
The public is invited.