Exhibit honoring Tuskegee Airmen, WASPs coming to Southern Heritage Air Museum

Published 12:26 pm Friday, September 29, 2023

They are two of the lesser-known Army Air Force units of World War II, and the Southern Heritage Air Museum at the Vicksburg-Tallulah Regional Airport in Mound, La., is going to tell their stories.

The Commemorative Air Force’s Rise Above Traveling Exhibit, which honors and tells the story of the Tuskegee Airmen, the U.S. Army Air Corps Black fighter group, and the Women Air Force Service Pilots, or WASPs, will be at the airport from Oct. 11 through 15 in conjunction with the Southern Heritage Air Foundation and Museum’s annual Warbird Formation Clinic.

The museum will be closed during the formation clinic.

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The exhibit tells the story of the struggles and success of the nation’s black World War II pilots and the women pilots who ferried, or flew, warplanes from the factories to air bases across the country. A P-51C Mustang painted in the red tail scheme of the airmen’s 332nd Fighter Group will also be at the airport.

The Rise Above exhibit last visited Mound in 2015 and featured the Tuskegee Airmen.

“I don’t think they had the WASPs at that time,” Foundation President Patty Mekus said.

She said the reason behind bringing the story of both groups to Mound “was just their stories of them overcoming the obstacles of that time in that era.

“The WASPs, for example, had to pay their own way to learn how to fly; to do everything,” Mekus said. “They did not get any military honors until about 35 years after the war. And we know what the Tuskegee airmen went through to reach their point. I think it’s good for people today to realize what the greatest generation really went through for our freedom.”

Schools from Rayville, La., Clinton, Jackson and Vicksburg have signed up to tour the exhibit, Mekus said, adding area residents who want to see the exhibit are urged to register in advance because seating is limited. Registration, she said is open until Oct. 3 “or until everything is full.”

“They can go to our website, southernheritageair.org, and click events,” she said. “On the event page, they’ll scroll down and they’ll find it. There’s a countdown timer on that page, telling you how many days till the event, and then there’s a place you can reserve or volunteer. If you want to volunteer, you can punch that.”

If someone registers online, Mekus said, their seat is automatically reserved.

As of Wednesday, she said, six viewings were sold out with seven more exhibit tours remaining.

“People can come to the exhibit,” Mekus said. “If people show up and we have space, we’ll happily let them in. But if we don’t have space, we will have a big tent set up behind the exhibit with some tables and chairs, if they want to sit for a little bit and watch the planes take off.”


About John Surratt

John Surratt is a graduate of Louisiana State University with a degree in general studies. He has worked as an editor, reporter and photographer for newspapers in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post staff since 2011 and covers city government. He and his wife attend St. Paul Catholic Church and he is a member of the Port City Kiwanis Club.

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