kristen zajac, children's author
tuskegee airmen

Tuskegee Airmen: Freedom Flyers

Kristen's book, "Chasing the Spirit of Service", is historical fiction. The Tuskegee Airmen, like Emma's great grandfather, are real. They are some of America's most important unsung heroes. The Tuskegee Airmen were the first African American pilots who flew during World War II. 

The Tuskegee Airmen bravely fought two battles. They fought the Axis powers (Italy, Germany, and Japan) in the skies over Europe during World War II. They also fought racism and segregation at home.

At the beginning of World War II, African Americans weren't allowed to be military pilots. In 1941, the Army Air Corps started an "experimental" program at Tuskegee Army Air Field in Alabama to train black pilots for the war effort. Officials made the pilot training more difficult for black pilots than for whites. They expected the program to fail but 993 pilots graduated at Tuskegee.

The Tuskegee Airmen 99th Fighter Squadron flew missions over North Africa and Europe. Their job was to escort and protect the bomber planes. They had a distinguished record of service. Several airmen, including Squadron leader Benjamin Davis, Jr., went on to become generals.

Tuskegee pilots flew over 1,500 missions and destroyed enemy airplanes, supplies, and equipment. Tuskegee pilots earned 150 Distinguished Flying Crosses and other medals and awards. The Tuskegee Airmen proved that racial segregation was harmful to the nation's defense.

Many historians believe the performance of the Tuskegee Airmen helped bring an end to segregation in the military and advanced the civil rights movement. On July 26, 1948, President Truman issued Executive Order 9981 calling for equality and ending military segregation.

Military integration preceded civilian integration...Civil Rights Act (1964), Voting Rights Act (1965), Fair Housing Act (1968).

Author's Favorite Books About the Tuskegee Airmen:

Red Tail Angels: The Story of The Tuskegee Airmen of World War II by Patricia and Frederick McKissack

The Tuskegee Airmen Story by Lynn M. Homan and Thomas Reilly

Freedom Flyers: The Tuskegee Airmen of World War II by Todd Moye

Author's Favorite Websites with info on the Tuskegee Airmen:

Author's Children's Picture Book on the Tuskegee Airmen:

Chasing the Spirit of Service

Written by Kristen Zajac
Illustrated by Julie Tucker

Emma comes from three generations of Air Force pilots and misses her father when he travels. Her best friend Adam tries to cheer her up. Emma's great grandfather, one of the first African American pilots during World War II, shares his life story with Emma and Adam and helps them appreciate the spirit of service.

Winner of the Global eBook Award in Multicultural Fiction

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