University of South Carolina

USCís MIRC newsreel highlights Tuskegee mission

By Margaret M. Lamb,, 803-777-5400

Long before “Red Tails,” the movie that chronicles the valor of the Tuskegee airmen, hit the screen, their story was chronicled in newsreels that updated Americans hungry for news from the war front.

And some of that footage is part of the University of South Carolina’s Moving Image Research Collections and online for history buffs to view. The nearly two-minute, black-and-white video clip shows an earnest ground crew preparing a plane for a bombing mission as AME Bishop John A. Gregg looks on. No fear, no bravado -- just a sense of the mission as the young men load ammunition into the wing while the pilots review maps of their of mission before climbing into the cockpit of a Curtiss P-40 and taking off from a deserted field somewhere in Italy.

Greg Wilsbacher, curator of USC’s Newsfilm Collections, said the airmen had only recently arrived from North Africa to fly bombing mission in support of the British 8th Army. The date: December 1943.

“We are so privileged to have this historic footage,” Wilsbacher said. “Our newsreel collection is a trove of historical treasures that capture the drama and emotions of some of history’s most defining events and remind us that it’s not generals not kings and not presidents – but everyday people -- who help change the course of history.”

The footage was shot by the U.S. Army Air Corps and distributed to Fox Movietone News, a portion of which is owned by the University Libraries. To view footage of the Tuskeegee airmen and learn more about the film archive, visit Moving Image Research Collections.  Over 200 newsreels released from September 1942 through August 1944 are online for the public at “Fox Movietone News: The War Years,” visit the site.

News and Internal Communications

Posted: 01/30/12 @ 12:05 PM | Updated: 01/31/12 @ 9:30 AM | Permalink