Tuskegee Airmen's ‘Chief’ Anderson commemorated on USPS stamp
Dana Gethers | 3/18/2014, 8:50 p.m.
The Chief Flight Instructor for the Tuskegee Airmen has been commemorated on a United States Postal Services Stamp, USPS.
A USPS First Day of Issue Ceremony was held for the release of the stamp which depicts the image of C. Alfred “Chief” Anderson, known as “the Father of Black Aviation,” on March 13.
The ceremony was followed by a celebrity benefit concert in Pennsylvania featuring stars such as Eric Roberson, Ben O’Neill, DJ Beauty and the Beatz and Grammy Award winner Lionel Richie. It was hosted by comedian Rodney Perry, in honor of Anderson.
Chief Anderson was the head flight instructor for the Tuskegee Airmen, the only all-Black group of pilots to fight in World War II. After overcoming racism and financial setbacks, Anderson was able to obtain his pilot’s license in 1932, becoming the only African-American qualified to fly commercially or serve as a flight instructor at the time. By the end of the war, he had trained almost 1,000 pilots at the Tuskegee Institute and encouraged many more to enter the field of aviation.
Some of the surviving Tuskegee Airmen attended the ceremony and talked about their wartime experiences with the legendary “Chief” (who singlehandedly encouraged many Black men to become pilots) despite discrimination.
In Dec. 2011 the Amnews reported on what we called, “The biggest thing since the Tuskegee Airmen,” when an all-black helicopter crew took it’s first flight in Iraq.
Decades after the revolutionary Tuskegee airmen took flight, Blacks still comprise the minority in military aviation.
“It’s an honor in this field,” said Stephen Ellis, one of the few Black military aviators at the time. "Very rarely do you see two blacks flying together...there aren't a lot of African Americans that fly period."
A 1997 National Academics report, "Taking Flight Education and Training for Aviation Careers," found that in 1990, decades after Anderson made history, less than 2 percent of U.S Airline Pilots were Black.
Chief Anderson’s grandchildren expressed gratitude and pride at their grandfather’s achievements and the USPS’ decision to recognize his historic contribution to aviation in America.
“What’s so significant is that the post office did their research and decided to honor my father as the face of the Tuskegee Airmen,” said Anderson’s grandson, Charles Alfred Anderson Jr., 65, to theGrio.com.
His granddaughter, Christina Anderson, agreed discussing how Anderson never received the recognition he was due, instead choosing to live a rather quiet life.
The C. Alfred Chief Anderson Legacy Foundation works to preserve his legacy to this day. The foundation’s site states, “Chief never wanted major fame, recognition or fortune for the many accomplishments that he achieved. He only wanted to share his deep knowledge and love of flight to his students.”
Anderson, who died in 1996, was inducted into the Black Aviation Hall of Fame in 2001.