Red Tails: Movie inspired by local man

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - A movie that hit theaters Friday has local ties. The film "Red Tails" tells the story of the famed Tuskegee Airmen.

The late Lieutenant Colonel Howard Baugh, a native of Petersburg, was one of the original members of the all black fighter pilot unit.

The release of the movie comes on what would have been the 92nd birthday of Baugh. He and other Tuskegee Airmen silenced the myth that African Americans were inferior pilots.

At the age of 21, Lt. Col. Baugh enlisted in the Army and began to prove nay sayers wrong.

"A lot of the civil rights movement began with the Tuskegee Airmen," said David Baugh, the son of the late pilot.

As a member of the famed Tuskegee Airmen, Baugh flew 135 combat missions as part of the first squadron of black pilots during World War II.

"They were known in combat as the Red Tails because they painted the tail section of their aircraft red so they could be recognized by the bomber crews," said David Baugh.

"Red Tails," the title of a new movie now in theatres. The film tells the story of the Tuskegee Airmen -- black pilots fighting for the right to fight.

"Their accomplishments were so much greater than the war efforts," said David Baugh.

The airmen achieved notoriety for being the only fighter unit never to lose a bomber under their protection.

David Baugh says his dad would have loved to have seen the movie. He's hopeful people don't lose sight of the big picture.

"There sacrifices and efforts improved not only the lives of African Americans but also a lot for the country. If you live your life and don't try to make it better for the next generation your wasting the effort of these people," he added.

Lt. Col. Howard Baugh was honored with numerous awards. He passed away in 2008.

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