Maranatha High School Students Spend the Day with Tuskegee Airmen
Maranatha High School World History students had the opportunity to visit the World War II Aviation Museum in Palm Springs recently. The optional field trip, offered by MHS History faculty Mrs. Lois Cronin, took place on a Saturday. Mrs. Cronin said, “I love this museum and I go every year because the docents are phenomenal and there is always something new.”
Mrs. Cronin’s sophomore World History students are actually just entering the World War II era in their text books, but Mrs. Cronin wanted to fit this field trip in as she continually impresses upon her students the need to “climb out of their textbooks and talk to living history.” All the docents at the museum are veterans of World War II, the Korean War, or the Vietnam War. That day, her class had the opportunity to speak with docents from all three eras.
Their tour started with a detailed history of flight going all the way back to the Wright brothers. They then learned about the Pacific Theater of war and the Western/European Theater of war. One of the most interesting presentations was on the Tuskegee Airmen. They were able to hear from two 90+ year-old Tuskegee Airmen on the struggles they overcame to even be able to fly. Students were shocked to hear that the prevailing attitude of the U.S. military at that time was that African Americans did not possess the intellectual capacity or technical savvy to be able to fly. Students also saw a flight demo of the Red Tail P-51 Mustang bomber that the Tuskegee Airmen flew. In fact, one of the planes on display had Bob Friend’s name on it, their 96-year-old docent who flew that very plane as a Tuskegee Airman.
In addition to the P-51 flight demo, they also saw a WWII biplane demo and toured the B-17 bomber. The students even had the unique opportunity of trying out a flight simulator. Talk about living history? Besides speaking with the Tuskegee Airmen, Maranatha students also got to hear stories from a WWII gunner and a Vietnam War helicopter pilot.
Despite the optional nature of the field trip, Mrs. Cronin had almost 30 students attend. Sophomore Caroline Diehl summarized her experience, “The WWII Air Museum was very interesting because I was able to understand the challenges that the airmen went through for our country. I enjoyed meeting and hearing the inspiring stories of the Tuskegee Airmen. We were able to see the aircraft that he flew as well as see it be flown.”
Maranatha High School, 169 S. St. John Avenue, Pasadena, (626) 817-4000 or visit www.maranatha-hs.org.