Inspiring generations: F-16 Red Tail is dedicated to Tuskegee Airmen

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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) -- An addition to the U.S. Space and Rocket Center is more than what it seems, and it is to honor the Tuskegee Airmen.

As several of the Tuskegee Airmen filed onto the state at the U.S. Space and Rocket Center Saturday morning, the applause was deafening. When the men sat down, the crowd didn't. The event was to honor those men and the others who make up the legacy squadron of the Tuskegee Airmen with a dedication.

Looming behind the men was a F-16 Red Tail, standing strong. It's refurbished, set to stay at the center, and now dedicated to the men who flew it.

Laura Christmas / WHNT News 19

F-16 Red Tail

That significant red tail and the plane embody a piece of history and a glimpse into it that the men want a younger generation to carry on.

U.S. Air Force Retired Colonel Roosevelt Lewis, Jr. spoke at the event. "The Tuskegee Airmen were my mentors and my professors in Air Force ROTC at Tuskegee. They were individuals who mentored me and were my best friends in my adult lifetime," he says.

Their history carried into his life, and what the first generation wants is for that to continue.

Victor Blade is a retired Command Sergeant Major in the U.S. Army. He stood with his son and grandson in front of the F-16 Red Tail, showing them that bright red color and what it means. "What good's a story if you don't tell it? And that's what I continue want my son and them to know. This is a story. It's got to continue to be told, because it's not about, it's all about the next generation," he says.

Those words, 'all about the next generation', is why the F-16 is there - it makes history tangible for young people. In seeing the plane the younger generation can ask questions - questions that open doors to share the history of the Tuskegee Airmen, and hopefully, carry it on.