Tuskegee Airman speaks to students at Savannah State University

Published: Sep. 15, 2023 at 5:24 PM EDT|Updated: Sep. 15, 2023 at 5:38 PM EDT
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SAVANNAH, Ga. (WTOC) - One of the few Tuskegee Airman still alive spoke to Savannah State students Friday about how they too can soar.

“Lieutenant Colonel Harvey III received his commission as a lieutenant in the army air corps on October 16th, 1944.”

Decades later, Lieutenant Colonel James Harvey is 100 years old and is one of the six Tuskegee Airmen still alive.

Harvey tells Savannah State University students, making history as the first Black military airmen didn’t come without discrimination.

He says they were told...

“Negro soldiers were quote childlike, careless.”

Despite that, Harvey went on to win the first “Top Gun” competition in 1949 without the need of the advanced aircrafts his white competitors used.

He told the crowd, that even though he and his teammates won, that’s not how it was recorded in the history books.

“They put unknown. They knew who won but they put that in there because they didn’t want to recognize us as being the winner,” said Harvey.

Regardless, he says his perfectionist mindset helped him push through.

“I ignore it and go and do what I have to do.”

But now he travels around the country, inspiring the next generation of soldiers.

Students took pictures and soaked up the wisdom he gave to them. They say this was an eye-opening experience.

“Learning to stay focused in any type of situation that your in. He faced a lot adversaries that a lot of us currently still go through today but not as harsh as it was back then,” said Hannah Holliman, a Savannah State student in NRTOC.

“They can do anything they want to. Just apply themselves and strive to be the best. That’s what I tell all the youngsters. Strive to be the best,” said Harvey.