Tuskegee Airport Renamed
“We are recognizing one of our own, a Tuskegee Airman, a Tuskegee University graduate, a Tuskegee community person, and you can’t be any better than Colonel Herbert E. Carter,” Tuskegee Mayor Tony Haygood said at a ribbon cutting ceremony, renaming the local airport in honor of the legendary Tuskegee Airmen. Colonel Herbert Eugene Carter, who passed away on November 8, 2012 at the age of 93, was a member of the original thirty-three members of the Tuskegee Airmen. Colonel Carter flew
seventy-seven missions with the famed Tuskegee Airmen during World War II. Born in Amory, Mississippi on September 27, 1919, Carter began his undergraduate studies at Tuskegee Institute (as it was called then) after high school and enrolled in the Civilian Pilot Training Program at Tuskegee Institute. It was his initial ambition to be a travelling veterinarian. However, after the bombing of Pearl Harbor and the US Army Air Corps announcing the recruitment of potential black pilots, he chose a career in the US Armed Forces.
Carter was a cadet in Class 42-F of the Tuskegee Airmen, the fourth class to graduate from Tuskegee Army Airfield. He was his class's Cadet Captain and
Maintenance Engineering Officer. During World War II, Carter was assigned to the 99th Flying Training Squadron, where he served as both Chief of Maintenance and a fighter pilot, initially in the P-47 and later the P-51 Mustang. He flew seventy-seven combat missions and and 200 tactical air-ground Allied support missions in the North African, Sicilian, and European campaigns. In 2004, Carter received the Chevalier French Legion of Honor, France’s highest honor and most prestigious award for "outstanding service rendered to France during the Second World War. It was presented to him by Jacques Chirac, the former President of the French Republic, for his outstanding service during the liberation of France during World War II. A year later, President George W. Bush honored the Tuskegee Airmen with the Congressional Gold Medal.
Initially it was widely accepted as fact that blacks were intellectually, scientifically, and biologically incapable of flying aircraft and that they lacked the bravery to engage crack aviators in the German Luftwaffe. However, hundreds of black men at the time sought to prove these conclusions utterly false. In an interview with the Air Force News shortly before his passing, he once stated that, "At Tuskegee, I was majoring in animal science. My plan was to finish and take veterinary medicine. I would get my private license, go out to Texas, and practice my veterinary medicine, flying from ranch to ranch tending the animals. I did not know that the Air Corps was going to bite me." In response to blacks being told that because of their race, they naturally lacked the motor skills and hand to eye coordination to fly military aircraft in high pitched aerial combat,
"That was not only an insult, that was a dare. It was the fact that we had been told that we did not have the smarts or the ability to operate something as complicated as an aircraft."
Returning to America after WWII, he served in the US Air Force for twenty-five years and retired as a Lt. Colonel in 1969. He obtained a Bachelor of Science in education in 1955 and a master's degree in education in 1969, both degrees from the Tuskegee Institute, while simultaneously serving as an active-duty Air Force officer. After retiring from the Air Force, Lt. Colonel Carter served at the Tuskegee Institute as an associate dean for student services, associate dean for admission and recruiting, and a financial aid counselor.
Named in honor of Tuskegee Institution's second president, Robert Russa Moton, Moton Field Municipal Airport is a public-use airport located three nautical miles north of the central business district of Tuskegee, a city in Macon County, Alabama, United States. The airport is owned by the City of Tuskegee. It is included in the FAA's National Plan of Integrated Airport Systems for 2011–2015, which categorized it as a general aviation facility. Moton Field is also home to the Tuskegee Airmen National Historic Site. In 2017, the approval was given by the Tuskegee City Council at its April 11 meeting for plans to build a new terminal at Moton Field. The $550,000 facility would be paid for by a grant from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) funneled through the Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs (ADECA). It was determined at that time, that the airport would be renamed in honor of Lt. Col Carter.