Legendary Airman visits Davison
October 28, 2011
Soldiers of the 12th Aviation Battalion served as host to two distinguished men at Davison Army Airfield Tuesday.
Tuskegee Airman Dr. Dempsey Morgan and retired Army Lt. Col. Joseph Lopez visited DAA to be briefed on the latest military helicopters.
The Soldiers and retirees exchanged knowledge and expressed their gratitude for each other's service.
"I'm very happy," said Morgan who retired as a first lieutenant in 1982.
According to the National Park Service Legends of Tuskegee web exhibit, the Tuskegee Airmen was an African American pursuit squadron based in Tuskegee, Alabama, in 1941.
The Airmen included pilots, navigators, bombardiers, maintenance and support staff, instructors and all the personnel who kept the planes in the air.
The men "overcame segregation and prejudice to become one of the most highly respected fighter groups of World War II," according to the site.
"When we were young it was very difficult for a black man, but now we have a black president," said Morgan speaking of America's 44th leader President Barack Obama.
Morgan served for more than 40 years as a fighter pilot and artillery officer among other duties. He received the Congressional Gold Medal of Honor from President George W. Bush in 2007. He also received the Distinguished Flying Cross award in the same year.
He is one of the few Tuskegee Airmen still alive.
Lopez served in the Army for 22 years.
He graduated from Officer Candidate School in 1952 and he served in locations such as Korea and Vietnam also working as an artillery officer among other duties. He also worked on air crews that flew planes from DAA to the Pentagon.
Chaplain (Maj.) Felix Sermon, Fort Belvoir Chapels, was part of the group that helped organized the briefing.
He first heard of Morgan while at a retreat with fellow chaplains.
Morgan resides in the Manor Care Health Services in Alexandria where Sermon's wife Myra serves as the administrative director of nursing services. The couple discerned that Morgan wanted to see the latest military helicopters.
"My desire was to help him fulfill his dream" Sermon said.
Lopez also resides in the health care facility and after expressing interest Sermon decided to escort both men to post.
The 12th Avn. Bn. Soldiers briefed the veterans on two Blackhawk helicopters. They talked about the design and capabilities. Lopez was extremely impressed with the features and size of the aircraft.
Both retirees were extremely pleased with the briefing.
"Tears of joy," said an emotional Lopez after receiving kind words from the Soldiers.
The servicemembers of 12th Avn. Bn. were very appreciative of the opportunity to speak with the retirees.
"These guys did so much for our country," said Chief Warrant Officer 3 Aristoteles Steward, A Company, 12th Avn. Bn., maintenance test pilot. "I'll never compare to what they did."
Steward said the briefing was a good opportunity to learn from retirees and carry on the traditions that they started.
He showed his appreciation to the veterans and thanked them for allowing him to freely serve America.
"I'm standing on their shoulders," Steward said.
CWO 3 Ahmad Peay, C Co., 12th Avn. Bn., maintenance test pilot, said he was amazed by people such as Morgan who gave "100 percent to their country" during a racially tense period.
"These guys are heroes," Peay said. "It's a privilege to see them sharing their time with us."