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TUSKEGEE AIRMEN HONOR BISHOP T. D. JAKES

2/7/2010

Bishop T.D. Jakes (2nd from right), smiles as he accepts an autographed, custom-made charcoal picture of the Tuskegee Airmen’s P-51 Red Tail plane presented by four of the Documented Original Tuskegee Airmen (from l to r) Lieutenant Calvin J. Spann, Flight Officer Robert T. McDaniel, Mechanic Joseph Montgomery, Captain Claude R. Platte. The men are members of the Claude R. Platte Dallas/Fort Worth (Texas) Chapter of the Tuskegee Airmen. They visited The Potter’s House, Sunday, Feb. 7, where Bishop Jakes is senior pastor. The gentlemen who persevered and succeeded against overwhelming odds presented the accolade to Bishop Jakes for being a fellow pioneer of change through his ministry, and his perseverance to do the will of God.  Photo Credit: Courtesy of Ron Sanders

DALLAS, Feb. 7, 2010 — Four of the Documented Original Tuskegee Airmen (DOTA) paid homage to Bishop T. D. Jakes at The Potter’s House of Dallas during a recent Sunday service where they were welcomed with a standing ovation. The gentlemen, who persevered and succeeded against overwhelming odds, honored Bishop Jakes for being a fellow pioneer of change through his ministry and his perseverance to do the will of God.

Dr. Claude Platte, Dr. Calvin Spann, Mr. Joseph Montgomery and Mr. Robert McDaniel presented Bishop Jakes with an autographed, commissioned, charcoal picture of their P-51 Red Tail plane. The illustrious men are members of the Claude R. Platte Dallas/Fort Worth Chapter of the Tuskegee Airmen.

"Pioneering through adversity is never easy for any person.  The Documented Original Tuskegee Airmen of the Claude R. Platte DFW Chapter, all from humble beginnings, did not realize the paradigm shift their lives and tenacity would make in history,” said Hope Stevens, Chaplain of the DFW chapter.  “Despite being maligned by racism and bigotry, they still persevered and provided exemplary bomber escort protection.  Bishop Jakes is also a pioneer of greatness through ministries such as 'Woman Thou Art Loosed' and 'Man Power'.  His perseverance to do the will of God in a storefront church in West Virginia has now been brought forth to The Potters House in Dallas, TX.  The opportunity for these sons of God to stand together is evidence with God nothing will be impossible."

The Tuskegee Airmen were the first black military fighter pilots in the US armed forces. They fought in WW II, a time when racial discrimination was highly prevalent. The military had begun an experiment that was designed to fail, but the experiment backfired when these black aviators proved that they could successfully fly complicated, expensive fighter planes, in which they wrote history.

 “It is a privilege to meet these men who conquered and surmounted against all odds, and I am deeply honored and humbled that these distinguished men, who served our country with bravery and excellence, acknowledge me,” Bishop Jakes said. “The Tuskegee Airmen are significant to our history and I will be forever grateful for their service to this nation, and their thoughtfulness.”

Captain Claude R. Platte served as a primary flight instructor, training over 300 blacks to solo and fly PT-13’s, PT-17’s and PT-19’s. He was assigned to the 301st and the first black officer to be trained and commissioned in the newly reopened Air Force Pilot Training Program at Randolph Field AFB, Texas the "West Point of the Air." Some famous pilots who soared under his tutelage were: Broadwater, Boyd, and Norman Scales Sr. a Texan who flew 70 missions over enemy territories capturing the Distinguished Flying Cross and certificate of valor.
 
Flight Officer Robert T. McDaniel entered the military in 1943 and was accepted into the Aviation Cadet Training Program at Tuskegee Institute.  He flew the TB-25J serving his country as a Flight Officer with the 477th Bombardier Group. McDaniel suffered an unjust court marshal and was put under house arrest because of his courageous resistance against racism and segregation. The charges were eventually cleared and he was honorably restored.
 
Lieutenant Calvin J. Spann received his wings at Tuskegee, graduating in Class 44G. He trained in the P-47 Thunderbolt's in Walterboro, South Carolina in preparation for overseas combat duty. He was a member of the 100th fighter squadron which was part of the legendary 332nd Fighter Group. His commander, Benjamin O. Davis Jr. Spann, flew 26 combat missions completing his tour in Italy.

Sgt. Joseph Montgomery was drafted at the age of 18 and was based at Sheppard Field Army/Air Force base in Wichita Falls, TX for a 31-day training program.  He was transferred to Tuskegee Army Air Field in June 1945 where he was chosen to become an aircraft mechanic.  During the train ride to Tuskegee, it was required to have their window shades pulled down from Mississippi to Alabama to conceal their presence.  Immediately he faced the belief that African Americans didn’t have the intellectual capacity to build or maintain intricate machinery such as an airplane.  Pilots and mechanics had partnerships of trust in each other’s ability.  The pilots trusted the mechanics to give them a sound well-running machine to sustain them as they escorted bombers.  The mechanics took serious ownership and great pride knowing their planes were secure and ready to withstand any challenge.  He has phenomenal stories about working on the F-80 and P-51.

 About The Potter's House of Dallas

A globally recognized church of more than 30,000 members located in Dallas, The Potter's House strives to be the voice and the hand that encourages people of all creeds and cultures to change their lives with hope, comfort and peace.  The church is led by Bishop T. D. Jakes, twice featured on the cover of Time magazine as "America's Best Preacher" and as one of this nation's "25 most influential evangelicals."

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