In 1943, during a time in American history tainted by racial inequality, the Tuskegee Airmen and ground crews of the 99th Fighter Squadron were the first African American pilots and crewmembers to arrive in North Africa and to conduct combat aviation operations during World War II.
This generation of fighters contributed valiantly to the war effort. The airmen earned 96 Distinguished Flying Crosses and suffered 66 pilots killed in action. Their dedication and unprecedented performance created the legacy of "The Tuskegee Airmen."
Retired Lt. Col Edward P. Drummond Jr. and former Capt. George W. Hickman Jr. are Tuskegee Airmen. They are men of their generation who provided glowing examples of the ability to overcome adversity while maintaining longevity in their marriages.
Drummond, 85 years old and one of the youngest survivors from the graduating class of 1946 at the Tuskegee Airfield, Ala., served in the United States Army Air Corps and the U.S. Air Force from 1945 until 1970. He is a thoughtful man full of wisdom that comes from a lifetime of experiences.
Drummond met his wife, Alberta Morris Drummond in 1947. They were married in 1949 and are still married after 63 years. They have three children, six grandchildren and three great grandchildren.
"When I met Alberta, it was love at first sight," said Drummond. "We were both foot loose and fancy free. Now we are in our eighties and have enjoyed quite a bit of life."
Both Drummond and his wife agreed that while their marriage was not always easy; they wouldn't have wished for different lives.
"We have worked hard to make sure that things went well," said Drummond. "Sure we have had downs, but mostly we have had ups. My marriage is the best time I've had in life and I have had a wonderful life."
Mrs. Drummond adds to her husband's reflections about their life together by including thoughts of their three children. The family they made together.
"When you get to be our age, you think over all the years, the children, the grandchildren and the great grandchildren," said Mrs. Drummond. "I love our children; it's been an exciting life."
Their son, Edward P. Drummond III, fondly recalls the way he and his siblings were raised.
"The example our parents gave us by having grown up in a society where segregation existed, showed us that with hard work and study we could become anything we wanted to be," said the younger Drummond. "I speak for my siblings when I say, 'They aren't just our parents they are our friends, they are a lot of fun and we love them.'"
Former Cpt. George W. Hickman Jr., now 86 years old, a well spoken and unassuming man, served in the United States Army Air Corps from 1943 until 1945. Hickman was a part of the graduating class of 1944 at the Tuskegee Airfield.
In 1955, he met and married Doris Baptist Crawford in Amarillo, Texas. They have been married for 56 years and have four children, five grandchildren and two great grandsons.
"Our marriage has been a good one," said Mr. Hickman. "Together we have chosen the best for our lives and raised four wonderful children. My wife is an outstanding woman and my marriage is the best thing here on earth."
Mr. Hickman volunteered with Doris' mother at a local library to supply quality multi-cultural books to local public schools. During their time working together, Hickman met Crawford's daughter.
Mrs. Hickman was drawn to her husband's character when they first met.
"He has always put others first and tried to make the world a better place." said Mrs. Hickman.
Throughout their relationship she has realized that their commonalities have helped them to form a lasting marriage.
"Our mutual interest in education, community involvement and the love of the Arts, has helped to keep our marriage strong," said Mrs. Hickman. "We have worked and continued to work with boys and girls in the Seattle area to help them to become responsible people who achieve whatever they aspire in life."
The roots of family run deep within the heart of Mr. Hickman. He credits his entire success in life to his nuclear family.
"What made me do so well in life was sincerely based on my mother and dad and family," said Mr. Hickman. "My mother and father stayed together and so did all of our relatives. I come from an extremely large family."
The Hickman's daughter, Sherie Hickman-Gaines has the deepest respect and admiration for her mother and father.
"I often thank the Lord that the first gift and best gift he ever gave me was Doris and George Hickman," said Hickman-Gaines. "I knew I was unconditionally loved."
It seems that Col. Edward P. Drummond Jr. and former Cpt. George Hickman's love for their wives and dedication to family have enabled them to live life well. They are two men so very proud of their marriages and families and quite proud to be Tuskegee Airmen.

Page last updated Mon February 27th, 2012 at 00:00