The Herald Bulletin

Evening Update


February 18, 2014

Tuskegee Airman to answer questions

Storyteller, World War II pilot to participate in Paramount's Black History series

ANDERSON -- Tuskegee Airmen will leap from the pages of history books and land on the Paramount Theatre stage Thursday.

Storyteller Rochel Gardner Coleman III will illustrate what it was like for the first black United States military pilots in World War II during the second part of the theater’s Black History Month Series. His performance will be followed by an actual Tuskegee Airman who will answer questions from the audience.

Coleman will tell the story of a Tuskegee Airman based on interviews and research through the character of Capt. Charles H. Debrow during the presentation at 7 p.m. Thursday.

Indianapolis resident Alaska Reeves will then answer questions about his experiences as an airman in the war.

His son, Erskine Reeves, said he can’t wait to hear more about his father’s adventures.

“When children get older they start to look back at their parents’ lives and wonder about things they never told them,” he said. “So the Paramount Theatre is something that’s exciting for us. It’s about giving him his day in the sun, so to speak.”

He said his father played with airplane models growing up and learned about aerodynamics. He then enlisted in 1942.

“From there, his stories began,” the younger Reeves said.

The elder Reeves trained at a flight school in the Great Lakes before departing into the Italy Campaign in 1944. He served in World War II during the formation of the Tuskegee Airmen that year in the 367th Service Squadron that supported the 9th Fighter Squadron and 332nd Fighter Group.

But his duties weren’t limited in the air. His duties included work on the ground, intelligence work and various other assignments.

“Some of his stories we’re like, ‘Why were you there?’” his son said. “He was given different missions.”

He was injured in September 1944 and honorably discharged from the Army Air Corps.

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