332nd AIR EXPEDITIONARY WING --
Black History Month takes on special significance at the 332nd AEW because the wing finds its roots in the story of the Tuskegee Airmen, a segregated African-American unit who earned distinction during WWII.
Only activated during combat the wing has performed its mission two different times since the 1940s, in Al Jaber, Iraq, and now in an undisclosed location also in the Middle East.
With that in mind wing Airmen formed a committee to celebrate Black History.
“Black History Month—it allows us to look back at our past—to dictate our future, but not just the future of black people but all people,” said Master Sgt. Cass Vaughn, a 332nd AEW Public Health technician. “One thing that has been shown in the past is when everyone collectively is on the same page, or understands each other, then it makes for a better society.”
One thing he says is true in the force today is very high level of diversity, which presents the opportunity to forge understanding and relationships.
“Let’s just take color out of it” he begins, in describing the panorama of today’s force. “You’ve got people that come from the Northeast, you have people that come from the South, you’ve got people that come from the West and each one of them have a different culture and a different experience.”
He goes on to say that learning to appreciate other cultures puts a person in good stead for understanding other races.
“Like myself, I came from Georgia, I had an accent—deep accent and me understanding someone from the North—for instance, I say ‘yes sir, yes ma’am’, they say ‘yeah, no’—I had to understand where they were coming from, that it’s not disrespect,” he said.
“When we talk about inclusion and we talk about all the different races that we have, it’s just understanding each other’s cultures, and that is what the Air Force does so well.”
During the month of February there are a number of events that Vaughn and his committee members have arranged to celebrate a theme of The Black Family: Representation, Identity and Diversity.
“The events that we have for the month and that the team has done an excellent job of setting up and planning, allow us to show different aspects of what that family representation looks like,” said Vaughn. “The importance of family and how we celebrate family… each family has a tradition that it’s tied to.”
Some of the scheduled events include virtual meetings with one of the original Tuskegee Airmen, Lt. Col. Harold Brown, and Maj. Gen. Alfred K. Flowers, the longest serving Airman in the U.S. Air Force. Additionally there will be weekly events including film showings, mentorship sessions, cookouts and Motown inspired Karaoke.