CLERMONT, Fla. — At their regular meeting Tuesday, Clermont City Council members declared March 17 Tuskegee Airman Recognition Day.
They also recognized Clermont resident and Tuskegee Airman Daniel Keel who served as a pilot, navigator and bombardier from 1943 to 1946.
The title of “Tuskegee Airmen” refers to any of the men and women who participated in the Army Air Corps program to train African-Americans to fly, maintain and support combat aircraft in the 1940s.
The first aviation class of 13 cadets in the “Tuskegee Experience” began in July, 1941. Five of them would become the first African American aviators in U.S. military history, enduring segregation and prejudice along the way.
When the Air Force’s 332nd Fighter Wing was deactivated in 1949, the all-Black fighter group’s personnel got assigned to previously all-White units, effectively desegregating the Air Force.
“It’s my honor to recognize one of Clermont’s own as a member of such a historical group of military pilots,” Clermont Mayor Tim Murry said. “On behalf of the city of Clermont, thank you, Airman Keel, for your service.”
Murry made history himself in 2020 when he was sworn in as they city’s first ever African-American Mayor.
Airman Keel, who will celebrate his 100th birthday later this year, has called Clermont home for more than 20 years.
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