A Tuskegee Airman
"The story of the Tuskegee Airmen has been told and retold, but one of these men,
LeRoy Battle, experienced something very few of the others did. While World War II raged on in
Europe and Asia, Battle and 18 of his colleagues became part of a battle of their own -- against
segregation on a military base, a battle that soon became known as the Freeman Incident."
"When he was drafted into the Air Force in 1943, Battle was 22 years
old and living in Brooklyn with his mother. He was sent to Camp Upton in Long Island for
induction camp and as soon as he stepped off the bus, a sergeant lined them up. Another sergeant
walked over and announced there was an immediate need of men at Tuskegee Institute in
Alabama and anyone who wanted to try out for flying could step forward. He explained it was a
colored unit and that all the tests could be given right there to determine if they'd be eligible.
Battle didn't hesitate."
The above two paragraphs are just a small part of an article I've written about Roy Battle
(the articles and photos are available if a publisher is interested). It tells the story of
Battle and his personal battle against prejudice in the Air Force
Interviewing Battle was an experience I'll not soon forget. He is still very
active and heads up his own jazz band, Roy Battle and the Altones. They travel all over Maryland
and D.C. to play gigs. In fact, while I interviewed him, Battle sang the long-remembered song of
the Tuskegee Airmen. Have a listen for yourself. Just hit the play > button.
NOTE: To get
the best results, you should listen to the audio using Netscape's RealAudio plug-in, available at
the RealAudio site.
Download the free "RealPlayer." Please do not ask to have the .wav files e-mailed to
you -- the last time I did this, I was overwhelmed with requests.
Battle wrote of his life experiences, including his
encounter with prejudice, in a book he self-published last year, "Easier Said." For
more information about this fine book, which is available at Borders Bookstore in Bowie,
Maryland and from Battle himself, Battle can be contacted by phone in Maryland at
410-741-1997 or write to him at:
4689 Sands Road
Harwood, MD 20776