On Thursday, Feb. 1, the Tipton County Museum, Veterans Memorial and Nature Center will unveil a new exhibit honoring Lt. Col. Luke Weathers, Jr. and the Tuskegee Airmen.
The exhibit, a joint cooperative effort between the museum and the Weathers family, will commemorate Black History Month and the World War II contributions made by the Tuskegee Airmen, who known at that time as the Red Tails, to the war effort and victory.
The new exhibit will prominently feature the service of Lt. Col. Luke Weathers Jr., a member of the Red Tails, the Army Air Force pioneering group of black fighter pilots who later became known as the Tuskegee Airmen.
Weathers, who was a member of class 43-D-SE, trained as a single engine fighter pilot. On Nov. 16, 1944, Weathers shot down two German ME-109 fighter planes which were attacking the U.S. bombers he was escorting, earning him a Distinguished Flying Cross for his gallant service.
In the city of Memphis, June 25, 1945 was designated Luke Weathers Day in his honor, making him the first African-American to have a day dedicated and the first to receive the keys to the city.
After his wartime service, he became the first African-American air traffic controller with the Federal Aviation Agency in Memphis.
Weathers, along with other surviving Tuskegee Airmen, was awarded the nation’s highest civilian award, the Congressional Gold Medal in 2007 and on May 11, 2012, the Federal Aviation Agency unveiled a plaque honoring his life at the Memphis International Airport.
A painting of Weathers escorting a wounded bomber back to base was unveiled in June 2004 and now hangs in the Pentagon and last year on Aug. 9, 2017, he was inducted into the Hall of Fame of the Organization of Black Aerospace Professionals in Orlando, Fla.
For his military service, Weathers earned the Distinguished Flying Cross, Air Medal with seven clusters, American Theater Ribbon Victory Medal and the European African Middle East Theater Ribbon.
Lt. Col. Luke Weathers Jr. was laid to rest on Jan. 20, 2012, in Arlington National Cemetery in Washington D.C. with full military honors, including a Fly Over depicting the missing man formation.
His son, Luke Weathers III, lives in South Tipton County.
The “Tuskegee Red Tails: Wings for This Man” exhibit will be on display until the end of April 2018 at the Tipton County Museum.
A small reception will be held at 5:30 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 1, with the public invited to attend.
The museum is opened Tuesday thru Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and on Saturdays, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. There is no charge for admission.
The Tipton County Museum, Veteran Memorial & Nature Center is located at 751 Bert Johnston Ave. in Covington.