Rodgers was one of the Tuskegee Airmen. The Tuskegee Airmen
were the first African-American pilots in the US Army Air
Corps. "Rodge" flew 69 combat missions with the 99th Fighter
Squadron based at Ramitelli, Italy. He became the squadron
commander when he returned to the states. He retired in 1965,
then worked for a year on the Apollo 12 program as a program
manager. He returned to active duty serving as chief of the
communication branch at NORAD in Colorado. He retired from the
USAF in 1983.
The Wish of a Lifetime
foundation in Denver, Colorado worked with Brookdale Senior
Living to fulfill a wish for Col. Rodgers to fly in a P-51
Mustang again. The Southern California Wing
of Commemorative Air Force made the P-51 Mustang "Man o' War"
available for the flight. The CAF SoCal Wing made the day
"Tuskegee Airman Day" with a short presentation before the
flight honoring Col. Rodgers and all of the Tuskegee Airmen.
Thanks go out to Brittany Polson at Wish of a Lifetime, and
the army of volunteers at the CAF SoCal wing who made this all
possible. The P-51 Mustang was flown by Steve McCartney. The
photo ship was flown by Al Kepler. The T-34 Mentor in the last
couple of aerial shots was flown by Mike Hohls, a former A-10
pilot in the USAF.
It is always cool to be able to get
photos of these vintage warbirds, but being able to catch one
with a veteran who flew these into combat is an honor that I
will always remember.
The hangar for the presentation with
the P-51 in the background
Rodge is in the ariplane as the CAF crews
prepare it to fly. The USAF CAP honor guard was there as well.
The P-51 forming up on the photo ship.
P-51 over Lake Casitas
Over the Pacific near Ventura, California
Col Rodgers in the back and Steve McCartney in the front.
Mike Hohls and Dan Newcomb in the T-34 joined up for
Marion Rodgers after the flight. He was all smiles and said he
had never been honored like this before in his life.
Marion with Steve McCartney after the flight giving the thumbs
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