For Jackson’s part, he did not have much time to dwell on his anger. From Tuskegee, he was sent to Nebraska for mechanical training, to Illinois for aircraft instrument school, and then to Michigan for further preparation before shipping out to Italy with the 332d Fighter Group in 1944.
After the war he was discharged, but he rejoined in 1950 for a brief time, he said, because even though he was licensed, “there was no such thing as a black airplane mechanic” in the civilian world, and he had trouble finding a job.
After leaving the military he worked as a machinist, made vacuum pumps, and later worked on respiratory equipment for 23 years. He lived in Boston for a time before moving to Marshfield with his wife, Constance Jackson, who died in 2006 and was a longtime teacher in the Marshfield public schools.
Now 89, Eugene Jackson is proud to be a Tuskegee Airman and said he believes the history of the airmen will live on. But he takes a cautious view of today’s military activity and suggests the country has plenty of domestic problems to solve.
Bryant settled in Cohasset with his wife, Vernita Bryant, who is a retired pharmacist. As a member of the New England chapter of Tuskegee Airmen Inc., a membership organization that tells the story of African-American aviators in World War II, Bryant speaks to students and other groups and shows films about the Tuskegee Airmen. The event Monday in Cohasset includes the showing of a documentary narrated by Oliver North.
Bryant was honored, he said, to go to Washington when the Tuskegee Airmen received the Congressional Gold Medal in 2007. President George W. Bush saluted the group, saying he wanted “to offer a gesture to help atone for all the unreturned salutes and unforgivable indignities.”
Those words, along with remarks by an airman, Bryant said, seemed to conclude a chapter in history.
Jennette Barnes can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.