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Red Tail legacy empowers diversity

  • Published
  • By Lt. Col. Prichard Keely, 332d Expeditionary Operations Support Squadron

The 332d Air Expeditionary Wing has a neighborhood feel that keeps people smiling throughout the day and cherishing memories of their time here.

As current day Red Tails, we strive to practice radical inclusion – the intentional inclusion of people from all walks of life. However, this was not the case for the society from which the 332d Fighter Group was formed at Moton Field, Alabama.

The Tuskegee Airmen there faced challenges at every corner. They were given outdated and broken aircraft, forced into segregated training, and prevented from fighting in the initial stages of the European theater. However, even in the midst of hatred and segregation they focused on the mission. They knew that no matter the color or creed of the Airmen flying on their wing, they must get them to the target. 

Much like the Tuskegee Airmen of World War II, it is the mission that brings us together. In a society fractured into factions, we have been brought together by our duty to protect our Area of Responsibility. The differences that can divide society are the greatest strengths for Red Tails. The various backgrounds, upbringings, and traditions from our racial and ethnic dissimilarities help us view problems from different paradigms. The Chief of Staff of the Air Force, Gen. Charles Brown, implores us to Accelerate Change or Lose. This cannot be done if we only look at our problems from the same set of experiences and bias. Our diversity is our greatest ally when fighting close-minded enemies.

We must take time to learn about the members of our neighborhood. One of the best ways to carry on the Red Tail standard of acceptance and understanding is to stay curious about people and cultures different from our own. Slow down and take time to recognize and reflect on diversity within your daily routines. This can be differences in race, gender, age, socioeconomics, sexual orientation, ethnicity, or religion. We must acknowledge our own, unintentional, blinders to keep our wing inclusive. Do this by spending time with people outside of our workplace or friend group. Give yourself extra time to stop throughout your daily travel to really get to know where others come from – not just in geography but the fabric of their history.

Our amazing wing is full of vibrant and diverse heritage, culture and values in both our civilian and military members. This melting pot of diversity weaves us into an inseparable and unstoppable Red Tail team.

Thank you for holding a high standard of inclusion and staying curious about the diverse group of people we proudly call Red Tails.