Harvey Alexander, Tuskegee Airman, appears in an interview with WFMY News 2 on Jan. 24, 2012.
Greensboro, NC -- This weekend, the story of the Tuskegee Airmen, the first African American pilots to fly for the U.S. Air Force came to life in the film "Red Tails," and one of the Airmen spoke with News 2's Patrick Phillippi about what it was really like to serve.
Harvey Alexander came up for the draft during his senior year of college, and eventually rose to captain, joining the Tuskegee Airmen. Fighting during the 1960's, the battles he fought weren't just on the battlefield, "we were fighting really two wars, we were fighting the enemy abroad and we were fighting segregation and discrimination in the United States" says Alexander.
He was fighting for a country that still had Jim Crow laws in effect, he couldn't drink from the same water fountain or ride in the same section of the bus as other white people.
Even with racism, Alexander persevered, "We loved our country as much as they did, this was our country just like theirs."
After returning home from war, Harvey wanted to become a commercial airline pilot, but quickly learned he could not, "I was told people wouldn't want to fly with a black pilot."
He learned to deal with this by "I just made the best of all the opportunities that I had."
At 90 years old, Harvey is part of the greatest generation, and has lived to see a lot over the course of his life, including the election of our nation's first African American President.
"I'm so grateful to have witnessed that change, I just wish it could have come across sooner."