The Tuskegee Airmen Script - Dialogue Transcript

Voila! Finally, the The Tuskegee Airmen script is here for all you quotes spouting fans of the Laurence Fishburne and Andre Braugher movie.  This script is a transcript that was painstakingly transcribed using the screenplay and/or viewings of The Tuskegee Airmen. I know, I know, I still need to get the cast names in there and I'll be eternally tweaking it, so if you have any corrections, feel free to drop me a line. You won't hurt my feelings. Honest.

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The Tuskegee Airmen Script









Wait for me!



Franklin Delano Roosevelt

wlil address the Natlon. 



The Presldent, 

speaklng from the Whlte House... 



... wlil be deliverlng

one of hls famlilar flreslde chats. 



He's expected to talk to the Amerlcan

people on the year-old war... 



... whlch began wlth the attack

by the Japanese In Hawali... 



... on December 7th of last year. 



Ladles and gentlemen, 

the Presldent of the Unlted States. 



My feliow Amerlcans, 

thls war Is a new klnd of war. 



It Is dlfferent from

ali other wars of the past... 



... not only In It's methods and weapons... 



... but also In It's geography. 



It Is warfare In terms of every contlnent... 



... every Island, every sea... 



... every alr lane In the world. 




the nelghbors are waltlng to say goodbye. 



Thanks, Dad.



Nice of you to come.



- Come on, you're gonna miss the train.

- Okay.



- Make it back.

- I promise I wili.









Next stop, Chicago!



Keep your tickets to reboard!



You see any lipstick on me?



Lipstick? No.



No? Frances sure did.



That girl's got eagle eyes when

it comes to spottin' lipstick on me.



If I ain't got nothin' on me

she probably slapped it off.



- Is that seat taken?

- Have a sit down.



Tickets, please.



"Stick and Rudder"? You a pilot?



Me neither.



But I wili when Uncle Sam finishes kickin'

my ass and pinnin' them wings on me.



- You felias on your way to Tuskegee?

- Yes.



- You, too?

- Finaliy.



Yes, I am.



Excuse me?



A licensed pilot.



I bet he didn't even have to take the test.



Biliy Roberts.



On the block they cali me, "Train".

As in "A-Train". Quickest way to Harlem.



- Block?

- Lennox and    th.



What block you from?



I'm from a smali town in Iowa. Ottumwa.






I didn't know they had colored folk in Iowa.



But now I got livin' proof

sittin' here next to me.



What'd you get on that exam there, Iowa?






Ninety-eight. That's very good.



So you did take that test?



That is very good.



But it ain't as good as mine,

which is one-zero-zero.



But congratulations on bein' second best.



Here we go.



Getup. Come on, get up.



- What?

- Move it. That's what.



Get your stuff and move it up front.

Now. Let's go.



- Move it, boy!

- Ali right.



- I won't ask you to do it again, damnit!

- Excuse me, please.



- Where are we?

- I don't know.



But why are we getting off the train?



See that?



The car you are in

is now for white folks only.



That's why you're gettin' off.



Keep in line now. One behind the other.



Keep it tight.



- German prisoners.

- Make way!



I'li be damned.



German pro car's in the front, boys.






We give up seats

for German prisoners?



This train's leavin, boy.

Either get on or back off.



Ali aboard!



Hold up!



Where you goin'?



That's me. Just like a raven.



Let's go!



Drili Sergeants, give me two lines of six!



Get the lead out! You gotta start movin'!



- Put your bag behind you!

- Behind you!



Turn to your right!



Your military right!



Pick your bag up with your right hand!



Foliow me!



Left, right, left, right, left, right, left!



Cadets march!



Left, left, left. Group, halt!



Turn to your left.



Push your man on your left to your left.



Come on. Come on. Move over.



Put your bag down on your right.







welcome to Tuskegee Army Airfield.



I'm Colonel Noel Rogers,

the Commanding Officer.



This is Major Sherman Joy,

Director of Training...



...and Lieutenant Glenn, Liaison Officer.



It is the task of myself,

Major Joy, Lieutenant Glenn...



...and others at this training facility...


            train and evaluate you men

as potential combat pilots.



There have been many obstacles

on the road to getting you here.



Now that you are here,

the only obstacle you wili encounter...



...wili be how quick you learn...


            weli you obey orders...



...and how expert you fly.



If I am the first to teli you...



...that your being here is an experiment...



...take time to understand

just what that means.



There are people in very high places

wonderin' if this wili succeed.



If I and my staff

have anything to say about it, it wili.






...we wili cut no corners.



We wili aliow no favors.



Our business is kiliin' our enemies

from the air...


            efficiently and expeditiously

as we know how.



Assuming you make it through

this training, that task wili be your honor.



- Lieutenant.

- Major.



Why did you join the Air Corps?









I don't like repeatin' myself, Cadet.



To serve my country, sir.



Your country?



Boy, are you stupid?



No, sir.



You people...



Don't you know how bad

we treat you people?



Servin' your country...



This ain't your country.



Your country's fuli of apes and gorilias...









Ain't no gorilias in Harlem.



Why'd you join the Air Corps, boy?



This country has enemies and there

are people who need protecting from them.



What people, nigger?



Ali people, sir.



To my knowledge

the Germans aren't sparing the coloreds.



To my knowledge, the colored aren't up to

fightin' the Germans, let alone, beatin' 'em.



Max Schmeling found out differently, sir.



You know what?



My job is to see if you Joe Louises can fly.



In case the Colonel gave you

the wrong impression, let me clear it up.



You are nothing...






You just heard two

very different speeches...



...from two very different officers.



I hope you were paying attention.



It is my job as Liaison Officer

to ease your transition to military life.



Reveilie's at zero six-hundred

PT's at zero six-thirty...



...and breakfast is at zero seven-thirty.



At the top of the military

command structure...


            President Roosevelt

as Commander and Chief.



At the bottom is you, the cadet.



Everything you need

can and wili be found on this base.



Everything you need to know

has the words "U.S. Army Air Corps"...



...written on the cover.



If it doesn't...


            don't need it.



We got weekends. 



I klnd of flgured that would happen. 



Hey, Iowa.






You ready for ali of this?



I mean, "We in the Army now, boy."



Weli, it's not Ottumwa, but...

I've been ready for this for a long time.



What about you, Walter?



What, Stick?



Stick was born ready.



He probably popped out his mama

with a fuli bomb load.



Come graduation...



...none of your names

wili be in front of mine.



Is that right?






What might that name be, Reverend

Book Worm? "Stick" or "Rudder?"






Walter Derrick, the third.



Aeronautical Engineer.



Hannibal Lee, Jr. Pre-med.



Lewis Johns. English Literature.



Wiliiam "A-Train" Roberts.

Political Science.



Roy Jonas Cappy. Art History.



Andrew Turner. Sociology.



Charles Tate. Halfback.



Wiliiam Pitts. Economics.



Class. Attention!



Take your seats.



Take one and pass 'em back.



What is this?



Permission to speak, sir?



What is it, cadet?



Sir, I believe we've already taken

this test before.



And I believe you'li take it again.



May the cadet ask why, sir?



You don't have time for an explanation,




You have one hour for this exam.



Begin and end on my mark.



Name an element.



Cadet Lee.



Water, sir.



Any others? Cadet Johns?



Earth, sir.



Cadet Peoples?



Air, sir.



- Cappy?

- Fire, sir.



Water, air, earth, and fire.



Of these elements,

I direct your attention to air and fire.



Although it's your privilege to live

in the air, it's your destiny to die by fire.



Many of you wili wash out

before you ever set foot in an airplane.



Others wili die during primary

flight training. Stili others in advanced.



When you die, we wili cross off your name,

close ranks and carry on.






...any of you ever been

up in an airplane before?



Yes, sir. When I was in coliege, sir.



I have a pilot's license, sir.



Is that right?



Yes, sir.



Foliow me, Mr. Lindbergh.



Ali right, Peoples,

let's see what you're made of.



He's tryin' to wear Stick out.



Doin' it on purpose, too.



Yeli when you had enough, "Fly Boy."



How you doin' back there?



What about a loop?



You must read your flight manual

and know it like the Holy Bible.



Yes, sir.



That goes for ali of you. Is that clear?



Yes, sir!



Hey you! Cadet Peoples!



Why'd you join the Air Corps, boy?



I ain't thinking about Major Joy.



He's just another door in the way.



Another crack in the box.



Another pecker in the woods.



"I just want to serve my country, sir."



"What country?

You don't have a country!"



Goddamn uppity nigger son of a bitch!



I'm real sorry, sir. Your country!



Uppity niggers turn into strange fruit

where I come from.



Strange what?



"Nigger hangin' from a tree.



"Just swingin'

from a hangman's vine is he.



"Talk Back Joe was his name, ali three.



"Massa shut-his mouth

then he turned to me.



"Lord, Massa shut his mouth!



"Then he turned to me."



Did you learn that in English Lit, Johns?



My great granddaddy

told me that sittin' on his knee.



It's a heli of a bedtime story.



As Director of Training

I assumed I had the authority...


            conduct any testing

I thought necessary, sir.



That assumption was incorrect, Major.



These men have ali previously been tested.



Why should you test them again?



The previous test scores themselves, sir.

Nineties, one hundreds.



I am suspicious

about the accuracy of those scores.



You think they cheated to get here?



A lot of people dream to be pilots, Colonel.

Many wili stop at nothing to become one.



Eliminating dishonest, untrainable cadets

wili save my staff time and aggravation.



I see.



Here are the answers to your retest.



I got the results as soon as

they were compiled. I too have curiosity.



Although, I suspect my motives

are somewhat different.



Cadet Lewis Johns,   .



Cadet Biliy Roberts,    .



Cadet Walter Peoples,    .

Cadet Hannibal Lee,    .



I could go on. No one scored less than   .



These people are taking up training slots

that would be better filied by real pilots.



There's a war on.



Yes, Major, there is.



And I'd prefer that war

was not on this base.



That'li be ali, Major.



PT-  .



Fuel capacity and engine? Cadet Johns.



Fuel:    galions.

Engine:     horse power, Continental, sir!



Left spin recovery technique?

Cadet Peoples.



Right rudder, stop rotation,

sharp forward stick, puli out from dive, sir!



Ali right. Let's go up!



Pay attention, cadet!



- Nose down!

- Yes, sir!



Let's do it now!



- Recover, cadet!

- I'm tryin'! I'm tryin'!



Nose up. Nose down.



Watch your air speed.



Pick up, damn it! Pick up!



Let go! I got it!



Step on the bali.



I'd like to step on his balis.



Let go, damn it!






Cadet Lewls Johns... 



...just taught you men the most important

lesson you'li learn here at Tuskegee.



If you don't believe in God,

you better find a damn good substitute.



As you were.



You missed chow.



I wasn't hungry.



- Can I give you a hand?

- I don't need a hand!



What the heli is eatin' you, Cappy?



Three more washed out today:

Bradley, Wade and Patterson.



Wade just broke down

and walked off the base. And Lewis!



I can't get him out of my head.



You'li get your chance to solo.

You'li make it. We'li make it.



That's bulishit, Hannibal! And you know it!



We're not ali gonna make it.



When we first got here

this barracks was filied.



Look at it now.



One third of us is gone and

we're halfway through this program.



So what?



Big deal.



I know I'm gonna make it, Leroy.



That's ali that matters.



What about you?



You gonna make it?



I don't know.



- What do you mean you don't know?

- I said "I don't know", okay?






It's not okay.



It's the wrong damn answer.



Now, the question is:

"Are you gonna make it?"



'Cause if you don't think you wili,

you won't.



And then you wili have failed.



You wili have failed your family,

you wili have failed your friends...



...and most importantly,

you wili have failed yourself.



Can you live with that?






Are you going to make it?



- Yeah. I'm gonna make it.

- Say it like you mean it, cadet.



I'm going to make it.



"Flght, flght, flght, flght, 

flghtlng   th



"Down in flames they go



"Fighting men of the   th

Send them down below



"For we are heroes of the night

To heli with the axer's might



"Fight, fight, fight, fight,

fighting   th



"Drink up



"Raise those cups to those galiant men



"Fighting cross of flame, oh, God



"Red, white, blue..."



- It's ali yours.

- Yes, sir.



Nice turn!



Beg your pardon, sir,

but why are we stopping?



Did the cadet do something wrong, sir?



I'li give you the opportunity of kiliing

yourself without taking me with you.



You're soloing, cadet!



Give me three circuits around the pattern,

each to a fuli stop.



Yes, sir!






Any questions on the film you just saw?



No questions?



Timidness is a characteristic

that gets fighter pilots kilied.



Sir, where's Major Joy?



I was assumed that he was teaching

air combat techniques.



And why is that...






Because he's white and I'm colored?



Come on, spit it out, man.



No disrespect.



It's just a matter of experience, Sir.



Another assumption.



I'm going to give you the facts, cadet.



Out of     U.S. Army officers

on this base...


            are looking at the only one

with actual air combat experience.



I have three     kilis...



...and I've had a Spitfire and a Hurricane

shot out from under me.



Both times behind enemy lines...



...and both times I escaped.



But the Air Corps didn't aliow

colored fliers. How'd you do that?



He went north. Royal Canadian Air Force.

Right, Lieutenant?



Forty-eight missions.



Now, if you don't think I have

anything to teach you...


            are free to walk out of that door.



My job...


            to teach you basic air combat tactics.



Your next training machine, the AT- .



"Bank without a turn."



If you learn nothing else, learn this one.

It wili save your life.



It starts with a hard bank.




you're supposed to be tryin' to get away.



Yeah? You're lookin' at the man

who put the "dog" in "dogfight."



I got your ass now, Walter.




you didn't expect me to fali for that.



Fali for this.



Where the heli are you?



Look behind your ass, Iowa.



Bang! You are dead.



- Damn! Where'd you learn that?

- Just made it up, man. Just made it up.



Come on, Peoples.

I don't believe you just made that up.



- Where'd you learn it?

- The same place I learned this.



You're too low!



We can't buzz the field.






What's a little vlctory roli between frlends? 



I don't see we have much choice, Colonel.



I lost one instructor

when Johns crashed and burned.



This stunt could have cost us

another plane and pilot.



Besides, I've had my doubts

about cadet Peoples for some time.



He and that boy Hannibal are showboats,

with attitudes that get men kilied.



And what do you think, Lieutenant?



It was a damn fool thing to do, sir.



But I've seen the Air Corps overlook worse.



Would you trust him

on your wing in combat?



He's one of the few that I'd trust.



Maybe there's a reason for that,

apart from his flying abilities.



I've flown with white pilots

in actual combat...



...who don't have his skilis, sir.



When these men arrived, I told them

no corners would be cut for them.



They're gonna have to be held

to the highest standards of the service.



But is it fair for that standard to be

higher than any other group of men?



It was simple youthful exuberance,




I do a difficult job as weli as I can,




That'li be ali, gentlemen.



- High test scores don't mean everything.

- I said, "That wili be ali," Major!



Cadets, attention!



I'm sorry.



- Lieutenant...

- I wish there was something I could do.









Walter! Walter!



There's little margin for error here.



I don't see any margin at ali, sir.



- Permission to speak, sir.

- What is it?



- I made a mistake. It won't happen again.

- That's right, it won't. You're out.



Colonel, I did something realiy stupid.



I'li take any punishment, but please

don't put me out of the program.



Son, my hands are tied.



I can't go home like this.






- I'd send you to the infantry if I could.

- Major!



I got a right to fight

for what I believe in like anybody else.



- I'm the best pilot in this damn place!

- Get a grip! Peoples!



- Peoples!

- Walter!






Peoples, get back here!



Don't do it, Walter! Walter! Come on!



Come graduatlon day, 

no name calied wlil be hlgher than mlne. 






Peoples! Get your ass

down here right now!



It's an order!









Puli up, Walter!



Crazy nigger.



You alright?



Look at that.



Took it right after his solo.



I'm gonna send it home to his folks.



Give it a rest.



Let them pack up his things.



- It's not our job!

- No!



Back off, okay?

They'li take care of it. I told you.



They kilied him!



Hannibal, they kilied him.

Major Joy set out to break him and he did.



Just as clean as if he put

a carbine to his head.



He was my friend, too.



Get off me!



You know he's right, Hannibal.



This shit doesn't make any sense.

Why they even bothering?



- Might as weli forget it and send us home.

- You wanna go home, Cappy?



Shove off!



You too, Train, go on!



Tuck your tail between your legs and run

back to Harlem. Make Major Joy happy.



Me too, for that matter!



I'd sooner be here by my Ionesome...



...than to play with a pair of jokers

who can't figure out the game.



Don't you see that's what he wants?



He wants us to quit,

he wants us ali to wash out!



I'm not gonna give him the satisfaction.



I came here for one reason.



To do one thing. To learn how to fly!



I'm gonna do that

and I ain't gonna let you stop me.



- I didn't say that.

- Not you, not Major Joy.



Not the goddamn

Commander in Chief himself!



You readin' me, Train?






What's going on?



Nothing, sir. Just a little discussion.



While you're cleaning up,

add this to your discussion.



You lost a friend today.



And I understand how you feel.



But you better get over it...






Friends die in our business

and for a lot of reasons.



And the only protection you have

against losing one is not to have any.



As you were.



- What's wrong, Cappy?

- I'm losing manifold pressure.



Roberts, break formation.



Yes, sir.



Lieutenant Glenn, it's pretty bad.



I gotta put her down.



We passed a country road

about a mile back.



Stay wlth hlm, Lee. 



Yes, slr. 



Comin' around on your other wing.



Hang on, Cappy.



Keep workin' at that hili!



Them's our boys.



Get off the road!



Give 'em room.



I said move it, damnit!



Just a little engine trouble.



Son of a bitch, they're niggers.



They's colored fliers.



Lieutenant Roberts.



Congratulations, sir.



Lieutenant Thompson, sir.



Congratulations, Lieutenant.



Lieutenant Cappy.



- Congratulations, Lieutenant.

- Thank you, sir.



Lieutenant Lee.



- Congratulations, Lieutenant.

- Thank you, Colonel.



Thank you, Lieutenant.



What you men have accomplished,

given the odds against it...



...your friends back home

could only dream about.



And your families watchin' today

never imagined.



You are among a select few who wili ever

know the honor of serving their country...


            the realm of flight.



You are now United States Army

Air Corps aviators.



For that achievement, I congratulate you.



"Down In flight they go



"Galiant men of the   th



"Send them down belowl

For we are heroes of the nlght



"To heli wlth the axer's mlght






We Amerlcans wlil contrlbute unlfled

acceptance of sacrlflce and of effort. 



That means a natlonal unlty

that can know no limltatlons... 



... of race or creed or selflsh politlcs. 



The Amerlcan people expect that much

from themselves. 



Thls meetlng Is adjourned. 



I understand your position, Beach.



But it's a very sticky subject.

Particularly in the Negro press.



And I've said this committee should not

be concerned with the Negro press.




I know a dead horse when I beat one.



So I think this might inject a little

courage to our more timid colieagues.



What's that?



It's a scientific study that I commissioned

by the anthropology department...



...of one of our most

prestigious Universities.



The credentials of its authors are as

unimpeachable as its conclusions. Look.



The inteliectual capacity of the Negro

to operate complicated machinery...



...i.e. a front line war plane,

is questionable.



Smalier blood vessels

in the Negro translates...


            restricted blood supply

and problems in severe maneuvers.



There are documented reports of

mysterious training crashes at Tuskegee.



Blacking out and losing control

might very weli explain them.



Might very weli.



- When does the committee get the report?

- In due time.



Right now it's under lock and key.

I got a few more ducks to line up...



...before I make my move.



And see that this Tuskegee nonsense

is brought to an end.



As God as my witness,

those boys wili never see combat.



You know you better get that part looked

at before you're ready to solo!



Yes, sir!



General Stevenson, I wish I had

more time to prepare for this visit, sir.



So in the heli do I, Colonel.



Mrs. Roosevelt.



Colonel Rogers is

the Commanding Officer of Tuskegee.



As I said on the phone, the

First Lady is here to look at the operations.



A little background might help

before we start with a tour of the facilities.



The field sits on      acres,

one of the largest in the country.



How would you gauge

the progress of your colored flyers?



Their progress is commensurate with

the standards of the training command.



Plain English.

Does that mean you are or aren't satisfied?



- I'm very satisfied, ma'am.

- Good.



Then I want a ride in one of your airplanes.



Major, take the First Lady up

in that Stearman over there.



- Take a couple of loops around the field.

- No.



I want to ride with him.



Is there a problem, gentlemen?

I thought you said these men were trained.



The addition of an old lady in the

rear seat won't unravel that confidence.



No, ma'am.






When I'm finished you can also teli

me why these pilots are stili here...



...and not overseas fighting

for their country like the rest of our boys.



Mrs. Roosevelt, Lieutenant Lee.



- Good afternoon, young man.

- Good afternoon, ma'am.



It's turned into a beautiful day

for an airplane ride.



Yes, ma'am.



That isn't who I think it is, is it?



Lieutenant Lee's about to

make ali your dreams come true.



What do you mean?



Take a good look around you, gentlemen.



I suspect Alabama wili soon become

a fond memory.



Hold it, please.






Don't teli me I spelied your name wrong.

I mean, how can you screw up "Lee"?



No, you spelied it right.



- I just never had my own plane before.

- Weli, it's not yours, Lieutenant, it's mine.



I put your name on it

so you think it's yours.



Sergeant Toby Wilis, sir.



Your Crew Chief. Cali me "Tank."



Nice to meet you, Tank. I'm Hannibal.



Don't you worry, I'li take care of

your plane just like it was my own.



I want to welcome you

men to North Africa.



For those of you who don't know me,

I'm Lieutenant Colonel Benjamin O. Davis.



Commander of the   th Pursuit Squadron.



Tomorrow you'li get an opportunity

to meet the entire   rd Fighter Group.



Despite the long

and hard road you've traveled...



...and the many obstacles that

have been thrown in your path...








I want you to know I'm proud of you.



Welcome to the war, gentlemen.



It's a long day, man.

I'li be glad to get some sleep.



Now there's a class act.



- You said it, brother.

- B.O. Davis.



He's a lot shorter than what I pictured.



- West Point wili do that to a colored man.

- What do you mean?



He was silenced the entire time that he

was at West Point. Nobody talked to him.



- But he never gave up, just kept on in.

- That's right.



- Like Walter said, "Just a matter of focus."

- Hey, Train, we're startin' up!



Poker calis, gents. Gotta take the pot.



Good luck, Biliy.



You know, it's so beautiful out here.

I shoulda brought my watercolors.



You'd never know

there was a war goin' on.



- You guys stay closer in formation.

- Yes, sir!



- Weli, time to pay the dances.

- You got that right.



How you doin?



Lift off time is zero seven-hundred.




It's the buffalo soldiers.



A day late and a doliar short.



Take a seat.



Yes, sir.



I guess we can begin our briefing.



Why wasn't I informed

the briefing was earlier?



You and your men are expected to read

the board just like everyone else.



The board said, "    ".



I'd look again, Colonel.



They changed it.



Same-ol', same-ol'.

Might as weli be back in Alabama.



- Lee, Roberts, Cappy.

- Sir.



We're flying. You're up.

Foliow me for instructions.



Yes, sir.



We've got a rali yard

that has to be taken out. 



German target dlvlslons have been

klckln' the shlt out of our ground forces. 



But are now low on fuel and munltlons. 



G  thlnks thls yard Is the supply depot. 



Our job Is to make

those supplies dlsappear. 



Target's comin' up just ahead,

over that ridge.



You gotta knock out

the German supply trains, it's the target.



Five miles to target.



Okay. Let's show him what we're made of.



Go get 'em, Hannlbal. 



Easy, Hannibal, easy.



Ready and fire!






Let's hit 'em again!



Beautiful! Look at that!



Yeah! Come on you son of a bitch!

I got your mama!



For your first mission

you guys did damn good.



I see Lieutenant Glenn trained you weli.

I like that.



- Thank you, sir.

- Nine months of practice didn't hurt, sir.



I'd check that attitude, Lieutenant.



Go get your sleep.

We have a briefing tomorrow at     .



Remember to check your fuel. 



This one wili stretch our range.

Don't suck your tanks dry.



Or it's a long camel ride back home.



You felias stay in tight formation.

There's safety in numbers.



Safety from what, sir? A circling buzzard?



I haven't seen a Jerry

since we've been here.



That doesn't mean they're not out there.



Dual targets this morning.

The German airfield and the power station.



- Turn out the lights!

- Excuse me, Colonel Davis.






When do you think

we'li be seein' some air combat, sir?



- You in a hurry to die, Lieutenant Lee?

- No, sir.



But we've been doing nothing

but ground runs.



The white units have already rotated

out to France. Why haven't we?



If you're not in a hurry to die,

you must have somethin' to prove.



With ali due respect

to the Colonel as a West Point graduate...



...your father being the first Negro

appointed General to the US Military...



...I think we ali have something to prove.



Don't you dream of jeopardizing

this mission with your glory seekin'.



Do you understand?



Yes, sir.



Goln' after the flrst target. 



We caught 'em on the ground!



Clip his wings, Cappy!



Ready or not, I'm roliin' in.



I have a little somethin'

from Uncle Sam for you, Jerry.



Take that you Nazi bastard!



I'm goin' after the power station!



I got it! I got it!



Alright, let's head for home.



Hey, felias.



- Colonel wants to see us.

- Us?



Yeah, you guys, me.



Lieutenants Lee, Cappy and Roberts

reporting as ordered, General.



Gentlemen, relax, have a seat.



I'm General Stevenson,

this is Senator Conyers.



General, I believe we've met before.

Back at Tuskegee with Mrs. Roosevelt.



- You're the one who took her up?

- Yes, sir.



- She could barrel roli with the best of 'em.

- And just what would that mean?



It's a maneuver, sir.



Gentlemen, we ali have things to do,

so let's move on.



The Senator and I are on a final swing of

a fact-finding tour through the war zone.



We wanna see how you are settling in.



We've been gettin' reports

which require some clarification.



We have critics back in the States.



- I wasn't aware of any criticism, sir.

- Weli, let me make you aware.



Inability to locate targets.



Failure to press home attacks

or find secondary targets...



...when the first is obscured.

Attitude problems with feliow officers.



Poor formation discipline counters.



- Excuse me?

- Lieutenant!



Senator, I...



I'm here to have a talk with the pilots.



I'm not interested in practiced excuses.

I thought I made that clear.



Where do you guys thlnk

they'li reasslgn Colonel Davls? 



- We don't know he's been reassigned.

- I don't see him out here anywhere.



They're probably gonna punish him

by stickin' him behind a desk.



It's the worst thing you could do to a pilot.



It would sure as shootin' kili me.



Shit! Bandits, two o'clock.






Finaliy some action! Let's get 'em boys!






Cappy, get back in formation now!



They're probably just recon, 

they won't attack us If we stlck together. 



Here's our chance for some kilis!



They're gonna isolate him!

They're gonna cut him off!



Damnl Come on, Traln.  Let's go.



-Cappy, there's one on your tali. 

- Get him off me, Hannibal. I got this one.



Hannibal, help me!



- I'm hit!

- Hang on, Cappy.



Come on, Jerry. You wanna fight?

Fight me. I'li give you a fight!



I got you dead in my sight

you son of a bitch!



- The Jerrles are runnln' homel

- Cappy? Cappy talk to me!



Oh, shit! Now the plane is...

Hannibal, help me!



Leroy, don't panic! Don't panic, Leroy!



Cappy, jump!



Bail, Leroy! Bail!






The Negro has been observed to have

a chlidlsh and lmpulslve character. 



Now, gentlemen,

you must agree that this report is...



...highly inflammatory.



I have on my desk

a War Department memo...



...on a colored pilot

recently shot down in North Africa...



...after breaking formation.

As a description, impulsive...



...quite appears

the appropriate terminology.



Maybe, but this report smacks

of a singular point of view.



Ali points of view are singular

if they're not to your liking, Senator.




I've got constituents who wonder why...



...when they're sufferin'

from war rationin' and over taxation...



...why we're spendin' their tax doliars

on a bunch of coliege educated niggers...



...who've convinced the press

that they can fly expensive war planes.






This experiment certainly

had noble beginnings.



But failures are evident and glaring.



Perhaps we should abandon

this project until after the war...



...when calmer conditions wili aliow

for more thoughtful approach.



Where you goin'?



To give the representative of the accused

an opportunity to defend himself.



General Stevenson you know.



This is Lieutenant

Colonel Benjamin O. Davis...



...the Commanding Officer

of the squadron in question.



Be seated.



Colonel, you are aware of the accusations...



...such as: malaise and fatigue

in the face of little enemy contact?



We've been in continuous combat

for months with no replacements, sir.



My men are tired.



Other units get four fresh bodies a month...



...but something always goes wrong

with our paperwork or movement orders.



- How many missions have your men flown?

- Most have flown weli over fifty.



That's the standard cut-off point

for white pilots to be sent home.



- And your men are stili flying?

- They don't know what else to do with us.



White pilots rotate back to the States

as instructors.



But since the Army won't aliow

colored pilots to train white cadets...



Nine months of training.



Countless missions in Africa...



...and not one air to air kili. Is that right?



We can't fight what we don't see.



We're so far from front line action...



...we rarely encounter an enemy plane...



...let alone the opportunity to engage one.



You recently lost a pilot

who cut and ran from...



...what, an imaginary Messerschmitt?



Those men understand

Lieutenant Cappy's action...



...was a mistake.

- Mistakes are ali we see, young man.



Late for mission briefings,

piss poor discipline and leadership...



...and nothin' but excuses.



I see a unit that is an embarrassment...


            the Air Corps, to the American people

and to themselves!



Might I remind you gentlemen

that this war is by no means won.



And this sad experiment...


            a drain and a hindrance to that effort.



My vote is that we abandon the project

and move the agenda.



Ali we asked for was a chance

to prove ourselves.



A fair and impartial opportunity.



We thought we had that chance.



But you invite us to a poker game,

hand us a fixed deck...



...and then wonder why we can't win?



- Young man, we realiy don't...

- Let him finish, sir.



Every colored pilot in the   th...



...went through his own private heli

to wear those wings.



Each of those men carry...



...not only the dream

of becoming American Military Aviators...



...but the hopes

of an entire people as weli.



Am I the only one here

that understands what that means?



I was brought up to believe

that beneath it ali...



...Americans are a decent people...



...with an abiding sense of

integrity and fair play.



The cheers I heard across this country

when Joe Louis and Jesse Owens...



...humiliated Hitler's "Master Race"...



...didn't just come

from proud colored folks.



They came from everyone.



How are we to interpret that?



As a United States Army Officer...



...who gladly puts his life

on the line everyday...



...there's no greater conflict within me.



How do I feel about my country?



And how does my country...



...feel about me?



Are we only to be Americans

when the mood suits you?



A fair and impartial opportunity

is ali we ask.



Nothing that you yourselves

wouldn't demand.







Vance, we got another one

comin' in high over here!



He's on your side, pick him off!



I got two of 'em breakln' upl



Son of a bitch!



I lost him!



I got one at nlne o'clockl



Oh, my God! No! No!



Number three's losing MP!



Damnit, I'm feathering!



Look out. There's another one.



Man, he's hit bad!




there's ali kinds of hits back at the wing!






I got two Jerries comin' in high!



- Shit! I'm goin' back!

- No, no! I need you up here!






- Where the heli is our escort?

- I never saw them!



Son of a bitch!



Hold on!



Hold on, back there!



Shit! Shit!

Vance, let's get this thing home!



Okay. We're goin' home!



Master switch off.






God, Waliy. Waliy!









If it's any consolation,

the word's in it was a good strike.



I lost half my crew up there, Colonel.



In my book that's the shit end of the stick.



The fighter escort never even made

the rendezvous point.



They ran into some trouble en route,

took some heavy casualties of their own.






They always got some sort of excuse.



Me, I got parts of four kids ali over...



...the Italian countryside

'cause of their limp dick excuses.



Captain, you're forgettin' yourself.






Take your seats, gentlemen.



Son of a bitch, the Colonel's gone fuli bird.



I have good news,

and I have not so good news.



The good news, we've been reassigned

to the European theatre. We'li go to Italy.



- Finaliy, we're gonna see some action.

- Yes.



However, there wili be some changes.

Once in Italy...



...the   th pursuit squadron wili

join three new squadrons from Tuskegee...



...the    th,    st

and    nd fighter squadrons...



...wili now comprise

the    nd fighter group.



They're ali colored units,

we're gonna be segregated again.



In addition our mission has changed.



From dive-bombing to bomber escort.



Why has our mission changed, sir?

Why ali of a sudden are we chaperons?



Their flying fortresses are taking

heavy losses and need effective cover.



Sir, why don't they let

the white pilots cover them?



I don't have time to lay it ali out for you.

I wili say this.



This entire unit came within

a hilibiliy's heartbeat of goin' home.



And, if certain people had their way,

coming back carrying rifles...



...if we came back at ali.



Say, you felias with the   th?






Reggie Milier,    nd.



Hannibal Lee, nice to meet you.

This is Biliy Roberts.



Cali me, "Train."



Hey, Train.

Weli, felias, welcome to Ramitelii.



Right this way.



You mean, "Rami damn Telii."



It's about time you showed up, Lieutenant.



- I thought I shook you in North Africa.

- Not a chance, sir.



- It's good to see you, Tank.

- Good to see you, sir.



I've something to show you later.



- Alright. See you out at the flight line.

- Take care, sir.



Lieutenant Lee.






I depend on you and the others in the   th

to show some guidance and leadership.



These kids just came from Tuskegee

and they stili say their prayers at night.



So do us ali a favor

and give 'em some help.



Roger, sir.



By the way, Colonel.



I stili do.



- Stili do what, Lieutenant?

- Stili say my prayers at night, sir.



You gotta be kiddin' me.



No, sir!



- Brand new Mustangs?

- Yes, sir!



P-  B,     galions with drop tanks.



You can ride these ponies

     miles and back.



Six fifty calibers on her wings,

and hauling two one thousand pounders.



If you don't bring back

swastikas with ali this...


            can keep on flyin' back

to Octopus, Iowa.



Ottumwa. Ottumwa.



What's this?



New signature from the group.



Do you like it?



It ain't loud enough.



- Paint the whole goddamn tail red, Tank.

- Yes, sir.



We're less than    minutes from Germany.

And they know we're here.



Those of you

wonderin' about seein' action...


            got your wish.



The   rd and    th

regularly tangle with the Jerries.



- Colonel, they're flying bomber escort.

- Occasionaliy, Lieutenant, yes.



They're doing it occasionaliy,

we have the honor of doin' it fuli time.



That's right. Consider it an honor.



Bomber losses to enemy action

are unacceptably high.



Yesterday's run into Germany cost them

   of     bombers. That's one in three.



Six hundred men kilied or missing.



You wanna make your mark...


           's your chance.



How do you like thls, glrls? 

Ali dressed up and no dates. 



Yeah, I thlnk we've been stood up... 



...not a B-   in sight.



This is the rendezvous point...



... they must have been grounded

by bad weather. 



He's comln' back aroundl



Hey, Iowa, turn to Channel  .



Alrlght, Medlna, come on let's get hlml

Take hlm offl



Sounds like one of ours.



Must be stragglers.



Let's help them.



Roger thatl



Hey, he's comln' up on topl



He's comln' In agalnl



Hang on.



He's above us!



Here we come, feliasl Here we comel



Hang on, Hannibal, I got him!



The "Train" is always on time, that's one.

Let's clean 'em up now!



Let's clean 'em up!



- What the heli? Did you see that?

- Oh, yeah! Who is that?



Get the other one, Hannibal.



Wait! We got another one

comin' in high over here.



Come on, Medina!



Keep your shirt on. I got him. I got him.



Moment of truth, Jerry.



We live in the air.



We die by fire!






Say goodbye, Mr. Kraut.

Give my regards to the Fuhrer.



Mustang, starboard side.

Come on, Vance. Who are they?



I don't know.



Red Tali    thls Is Fortress  - - .

Come In. Over. 






I can't raise 'em, they must be

on a separate frequency or somethin'.



- You get any kind of I.D.?

- Nothing I recognize.



I teli you,

we need to find out who those boys are.



- Red tails, huh?

- Yeah.



No fire group I know

carries those markings.



Weli, I gotta find 'em.



I got a bottle of whiskey for both of 'em

for savin' our asses.



Try Ramitelii. We're gettin' new escort

assignments, they might be one of them.



I'li check it out.



Poor slob did everything

but puli the trigger for me!



That last kili, I took that son of a bitch out

from a thousand yards!



Sir, how do you get 'em off you?

Splits? Climbin' turns?



No, no. Walter People's special,

"You make it up as you go along."



Hey, how you guy's doin'?



We're B-   bomb group based at Foggia...



...and we're lookin' for the pilots

who were up at Pleven yesterday.



We wanna say thanks.

A couple of those guys saved our asses.



Don't mention it.



- So where are they?

- Where's who?



The pilots, boy.

We came up here to see them.



You're lookin' at 'em.



Lieutenant Lee, Lieutenant Roberts.



How are you?



- We appreciate your thanks.

- This whole base is colored?



Colored, yes. Lock, stock and pilot.



Let's get out of here, Lieutenant.



- What?

- This isn't right, let's go.



- What's wrong? He just said...

- I don't care.



Them pilots was niggers.



Niggers weren't flyin' them planes today.

Let's move it out.



Yes, sir.



You saved their asses,

and they got the nerve to be insulted?



Makes you wanna hurt somebody.



What are you writing?



My folks.



This boy mails a letter

to his folks every night.



I won't mail this one, you wili.



Oh, no, no, no.

I am not mailing that letter.



If you die, you mail it yourself.



You'li mail it just like I'li mail yours.



You won't have to worry about me askin'.



Writin' 'em one of those letters is

like expecting to die.



No one expects to die.



My father had a friend,

he fought in the First World War.



He was one of the first

colored soldiers in France.



This man had so many medals he came

home decorated like a Christmas tree.



He disappeared one night.



They found him in Georgia,

lynched in his uniform.



Why would you want to fly for a country

that thanks you by lynching you?



I like the feeling of respect that we get.



Especialiy from colored folks.





            and Cappy came upon them felias in

the chain-gang while training in Tuskegee.



I even got some satisfaction outta the look

on those white felias today...



...when they found out it was us

that saved their tails.






...that colored outfit, the    nd,

HQ confirmed.



They were the boys that helped us

at Pleven and...



...we weren't even their assignment.




let me give you a little Sociology lesson.



I think bein' from California and ali,

you might be a little bit confused.



Now, I'm a Texas boy.



I grew up with niggers.

I was around 'em every day.



Heli, in Lubbock you can't throw a rock

without hittin' one.



Now, I know how they think.



And I know how they live and

I can teli you with complete certainty...



...what they are and are not capable of.



You don't think they can fly them planes,




Lance, if they was flyin' them planes,

and that's a big "if"...



...then what happened up there

was a fluke. So forget about it.



I'm gettln' tlred of these long mlsslons... 



... where we get stuck out here

by our lonesome. 



I'm low on fuel,

I say we should head back.



- Wait a second. What's that?

- Where?



Down below,

looks like a German destroyer.



Ain't one of ours.



You thinkin' what I'm thinkin'?






Straighten up.



Fly right.



Alright, here we go.






Go down, Papa. Go down, Papa.

Don't you blow your top!



That a boy. That a boy. That a boyl




Hey, Iowa.



You're in the spotlight in there, man.

You sunk a damn destroyer.



People get medals for doin' that shit.



You're gonna teli me you think

they'li give you or me...



...or anybody else on this base

a medal for doin' anything right?



Okay. Alright, so you won't get a medal.



The bottom line is, we know what you did.



And we know it was a lucky shot.



But it's stili one destroyer down.



Do you see our escort?



Sure do. And they're right on time.



They know we're here.



They'li give us' their best shot but

we gotta get these guys to Biretta Pass.



Biretta Pass and back.



Heads up. Seven MB    s at one o'clock.



I'li take the leader.



- Roger that. Straighten up!

- Fly right!



Starboard wlng now, 

I almost got 'em In my slghts. 



Keep your line unengaged!

Twelve miles tili target.



Ali statlonsl Ali statlons check Inl

Tali gunner, come upl



Make it easy for me.

Bring it around. That's it.



Go get 'em, Traln. 

You shake that buzzard down, boy. 



Roger that!



I got him!



Bomb door's openl



Target up! Target up!



Got another one tryin'

to sneak over the top, Iowa.



Ground him!



Come on, baby!



That's it, I got you!



That's two, Iowa!



Two mlies to target. 



On your six, Train!



Bombs awayl



- Bombs away.

- Bombs away.



- Hang on, Traln. 

- Get this guy off me, Iowa!



I'm comin'!






No, Blilyl Nol



I'm right behind him, Train!



You go straight to heli you son of a bitch!



Good hit! Good hit!



Train, can you hear me?

Can you hear me, Train?



I got two more, Iowa.



I saw you. You dld good, Traln. 



Now, come on.

The bombers went back, come on.



You climb. No!

You gotta climb to them, Iowa.



You gotta climb to them!



Straighten up and fly right, boy.

You can make it!









"Oh, we are heroes of the nlght. 

To heli wlth the axer's mlght. 



"Flght, flght, flght flghtlng Nlnety-Nlne. 



"Down in flames they go



"Fighting men of the Ninety-Nine

Send them



"Send them down below



"We are heroes of the nlght. 

To heli wlth the axer's mlght"



Blily Roberts. 

On the block they cali me, "Traln."



As in, "A-Train",

the quickest way to Harlem.



- I'li take some smokes.

- Alright.






...Walter Derrick, the Third.



Aeronautlcal Englneer. 



Lewis Johns, English Literature.



Leroy Jonas Cappy, Art History.




just how bad wili the Eighty-Eights be?



You'li be attacking Berlin, son.

The very heart of Germany.



Every anti-aircraft gun in the region

wili be trying to stop you.



And there'li be the fighters.



Now, gentlemen, on this one,

we need every load placed on the target.



We may not have a second chance.



Sir, who's flyin' cover?



The   st wili escort your wing, Lieutenant.



Now, anymore questions?



If not, good luck.






Why the change?



How come our escort was changed from

the    nd to the   st?



Logistics, Captain. Is that a problem?



- No, sir. No problem.

- Good. Have a good mission.






You got a point to make, Captain?

I suggest you get on with it.



Speak up, Captain,

we got a mission to run here.



Yes, sir. Weli, I...



...I got men whose lives are

my responsibility up there, sir.



And I want the    nd as our escort.



Colored boys?



That's right, sir.



I looked into it, and...



...since they've been escorting bombers

they haven't lost one to enemy action, sir.



Not a single ship.

And if it's ali the same to you...



...I want the    nd

to take me to Berlin and back.



Alright, Captain.

I'li take it under advisement.



At ease.



You're up awfuliy early today.



I haven't gotten much sleep, sir.



We're ali gonna miss him, Hannibal.



The realiy sad thing is

he's gonna miss this.



Distinguished flying cross

for taking out the destroyer.



General Croweli wili be here next week

to officialiy present it to you.



There's somethin' else.



- Sir.

- Congratulations.



Captain Lee.



The word's in about our next mission.






And we weren't assigned.



We were requested.


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