September 20, 2008

Airman’s Life Touched Many Others

Editor, Times-Dispatch: Regarding your story, "Tuskegee Airman Died Amid Plans to Immortalize Him," by Michael Paul Williams: Chesterfield County Airport has already "immortalized" Lt. Col. Howard Baugh.

Here at Chesterfield County Airport "The Lieutenant Colonel Howard Baugh Observation Deck" was named in Baugh's honor when former airport manager Charles Dane invited Baugh and his family to our 2004 air show to give recognition to all Baugh accomplished as a Tuskegee Airman. Also, a beautiful wall presentation -- painted by local artist Maggie O'Leary -- of Lt. Col. Baugh and his P-40 War Hawk named after his wife, Connie Jeanne, hangs in the upper level of the terminal which can be viewed from the terminal lobby.

It is truly amazing how one man can affect and literally change the face of history. Baugh had a commanding presence that extended to all who met him. While there is no way of knowing exactly how many lives were affected by the lieutenant colonel, many were. Many a crewman's life in the bombers protected by Baugh against a very aggressive and determined enemy were spared due to the Red Tails' participation in fighter escorts that staved off attack. The children of those bomber crews owe their very existence to the Tuskegee Airmen. Such is the case of our new airport manager, Thomas Trudeau (who never met Baugh), whose own father was one of those crewmen whose post-war stories included tales of rescue by fighter aircraft and what were called the bomber crews' "little friends."

Other members of the airport staff came to know and love the man and his wonderful family through his many visits, and during the many hours he tirelessly spent at our air shows, attracting large crowds, signing pictures, and explaining what the Tuskegee Airmen were all about. He was always doing his best to defer the attention to others to include recognition of their accomplishments.

Baugh's story will continue to be told to all, young and old, who participate in airport group tours, which are given upon request. Lt. Col. Howard Baugh, war hero and dear friend, will truly be missed.

- Julie Tilley, Airport Secretary, Chesterfield Airport


Originally published by Tilley.

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