CHICAGO – The Illinois Department of Veterans’ Affairs (IDVA) today honored two World War II U.S. Army Air Force Veterans and members of the famed Tuskegee Airmen as February 2011 Veterans of the Month at a ceremony in Chicago.
The Illinois Veteran of the Month award is a distinction that is given to military Veterans who give back to their community and continue to serve other Veterans. IDVA Assistant Director Sergio Estrada presented the award Robert Martin and Quintin Smith, both members of the Chicago Chapter of the Tuskegee Airmen, at the 6th District Police Station Community Room, 7808 S. Halsted St., Chicago.
Martin, a retired City of Chicago electrical engineer, was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross, Air Medal with six oak leaf clusters and the Purple Heart, among other achievements, for his service during World War II between 1944 and 1945. Smith, a retired educator served in the U.S. Air Force from 1942 to 1945.
IDVA honored Martin and Smith for being pioneers for African-Americans aviators and for continuing the legacy of the Tuskegee Airmen in the Chicago area. The Tuskegee Airmen are a group of African-American fighter pilots and the first African-American military aviators in the U.S. Armed Forces who served during World War II. There are 55 chapters nationwide of Tuskegee Airmen who honor the accomplishments of the original group and also introduce young people to aviation and science. Both Martin and Smith participate in speaking engagements with schools and military organizations throughout the Chicago area.
“We are pleased to honor these brave men for their pioneering service to our country during World War II, and for keeping the legacy of the Tuskegee Airmen alive by introducing a new generation to aviation and military service,” said IDVA Assistant Director Sergio Estrada.