By Connor Sheets
The Tuskegee Airmen are being honored by the U.S. Mint with a quarter dedicated to the Tuskegee Airmen National Historic Site.
The coin, which will be the final installment in the mint’s popular America the Beautiful Quarters Program, is slated to be officially released Monday.
All of the nearly 1,000 Black military pilots who trained in the U.S. during World War II did so in Tuskegee. Of those, 450 were deployed overseas and 150 died, including 66 who were killed in action. There were also more than 15,000 support staff, like navigators, bombardiers and mechanics.
The Tuskegee Airmen National Historic Site pays homage to the storied service-members, preserving five structures used for flight training during the war.
The tails side of the special coin features a Tuskegee Airmen pilot standing in front of the Moton Field control tower as two P-51 Mustang fly by. It also features the statement “They fought two wars,” a reference to the fact that the airmen participated in both foreign conflict and the struggle against racism and discrimination in the U.S.
Established in 1998, the Tuskegee Airmen National Historic Site in Alabama commemorates the heroic actions and achievements of the famous Tuskegee Airmen. The term “Tuskegee Airmen” pertains to both men and women of diverse nationalities. They were composed of nearly 1,000 pilots and more than 15,000 support staff (including navigators, bombardiers, and mechanics). The site preserves five historic structures used during primary flight training during World War II. The inscription “THEY FOUGHT TWO WARS” is arced across the top as a reference to the dual battles the Tuskegee Airmen fought–fascism abroad and racial discrimination at home. The coin was designed by Chris Costello, of the Artistic Infusion Program, and sculpted by artist Phebe Hemphill.
“It is fitting that such a significant historic site will complete this successful coin program,” said Mint Director David J. Ryder. “The Mint is proud to honor the men and women who overcame segregation and prejudice to become one of the most highly respected fighter groups of World War II.”
The coin’s obverse (heads) depicts the 1932 portrait of George Washington by John Flanagan, which has been restored to bring out subtle details and the beauty of the original model. Inscriptions are “UNITED STATES OF AMERICA,” “LIBERTY,” “IN GOD WE TRUST,” and “QUARTER DOLLAR.”