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Living St. Louis: Tuskegee Vet Walter Fielder

Producer Ruth Ezell interviews 87-year-old Walter Fielder, a member of the famed Tuskegee Airmen. Known for their skill as the United States’ first African American military pilots, The Tuskegee Airmen were supported on the ground by crew who were also all-African American. Fielder was one of these men. He was assigned to paint the fabric-covered wings of P-17 training planes, and later, to teach others how to do the specialized job. The paint—a substance called “dope”—sealed the fabric to make it waterproof and airtight. Fielder joined other Tuskegee Airmen in Washington, D.C., when the group received the Congressional Gold Medal in ceremonies in March 2007. He also was honored at a presentation in July 21 at Lambert Field in St. Louis. Says Fielder, “For every plane you saw in the sky, there were at least 11 men on the ground working on them.”