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CAMDEN, N.J. (CBS) — A local Tuskegee Airman saluted the fallen at a Pearl Harbor Day remembrance in Camden, New Jersey, on Wednesday.

Thursday, Dec. 7, 2023 marks 82 years after the 1941 Japanese attack, killing 2,403 U.S. servicemembers and civilians, sinking two U.S. Navy battleships and destroying 188 aircraft.

Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day has been held annually since 1994.

Now one of the last surviving pilots from the Tuskegee Airmen, Eugene Richardson left his home on Pine Street in Camden and joined the Army Air Corps as a teenager, becoming a pre-aviation cadet at age 17.

He then trained and became a qualified fighter pilot, but did not see air combat as the fighting in Europe ended two months after he was commissioned.

“It was a dream come true for me because since I was a little kid, I wanted to fly an airplane,” Richardson said Wednesday.  

The Tuskegee Airmen in World War II protected bomber pilots from other fighters who would shoot them down – and never lost a bomber. They shot down 112 enemy aircraft.

“When they saw how good our guys were, they then asked our guys to protect the white boys and the bombers,” Richardson told CBS News Philadelphia’s Ukee Washington last year.

The Airmen were the first African American military aviators in the U.S. armed forces.

On Wednesday, Richardson was at Butler Cemetery, the resting place of several African American veterans including members of the U.S. Colored Troop in the Civil War.

As a chilly wind blew through the historic site, Richardson saluted and a bugler played “Taps.” The flag was then lowered to half-staff.

“All gave some, some gave all,” said Lt. Col. Rev. Floyd White, a retired Army and Air Force chaplain and the pastor of Woodland Avenue Presbyterian Church.

“We are thankful to God for those who are here, those who have served so diligently to our country. Today we recognize those who gave their lives at Pearl Harbor, Dec. 7, 1941,” White said.

White and the Woodland Community Development Corporation then announced the creation of a scholarship in Richardson’s name.

Richardson received the Congressional Medal of Honor from President George W. Bush in 2007.

Source: https://www.cbsnews.com/philadelphia/news/tuskegee-airman-pearl-harbor-day-camden-nj/

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