STATUE HONORS TUSKEGEE AIRMENEvent to honor local members of historic black World War II aviators.
by Lisa Deneal
As members of the Chanute Aquatorium Society prepare to unveil a statue honoring the Tuskegee Airmen, Quentin Smith, one of the airmen, recalls being a model for a previous image.
During the 1980s, Smith, a retired Tuskegee Airmen instructor and then a pilot from the U.S. Army 477th Unit, allowed his face to be used for a statue sculpted by a former classmate.
The statue is in the Hall of Honor at the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs.
Smith, a member of the Chicago Chapter of Tuskegee Airmen, is just as excited about the statue that will be unveiled in his Gary hometown at the Aquatorium on Saturday.
"It has taken us eight years to finally have a statue made, and this statue will represent and honor all of the Tuskegee Airmen," Smith said.
The statue will stand at the right side of the Aquatorium, near the Tuskegee Airmen Museum in the same area. The unveiling will take place at 5 p.m. to honor the time Germans surrendered in Europe during World War II on May 8.
The ceremony's local time will mark midnight in Europe when the surrender actually occurred. Artifacts, photos and the history of the Tuskegee Airmen provided by Smith are on display inside the Aquatorium.
Smith will attend the ceremony with fellow airman Beverly Dunjill, the Chicago Chapter president. The statue was created by sculptor Michael Dente' of Salt Lake City.
The sculptor's catalog includes the statue of Octave Chanute, which is on the left side of the Aquatorium.
It was unveiled in 2003 during the 100th anniversary of the first plane flight.
Story posted: 05/03/2005