PEACHTREE CITY, GA. (June 9, 2023) – Commemorative Air Force (CAF) Airbase Georgia will celebrate Juneteenth Day by flying a Tuskegee Airman veteran in their assigned P-51 Mustang Red Nose on June 16 and flying an honorary “missing man” formation over Atlanta’s Centennial Park on June 17, saluting Black military members lost in World War II. The four-plane aerial exhibition also will fly over the Juneteenth Atlanta Black History Parade on June 17.
Tuskegee Airman veteran mechanic Rev. Thomas N. Bristow, Sr., 95, will climb into the cockpit of the the CAF Airbase Georgia’s P-51, Red Nose, after 9 a.m. June 16 at the Airbase hangar in Peachtree City, Ga. His flight will honor all Tuskegee World War II veterans and the heroic flying they did in Africa and Europe. The Tuskegee Airmen flew P-51s with distinctive red tails during the War, and the CAF Red Tail Squadron, based in Red Wing. Minn., maintains and flies a restored P-51 in their honor. The Squadron also operates a traveling education exhibit, “Rise Above: Red Tail”, about the history of the Tuskegee Airmen.
Bristow enlisted at age 17, telling recruiters he was 18. He did his basic training at Sheppard Field, Texas, in 1946. He continued his job training at Chanute Field, Ill., where he became an aircraft sheet metal specialist. After graduation, he was assigned to the 477th Bombardment Group Anti-Aircraft Unit and then to the 100th Fighter Squadron, serving under the legendary Col. Benjamin O. Davis for the Tuskegee Airmen.
He rose to Non-Commissioned Officer in charge of the entire sheet metal shop and was promoted to the rank of sergeant in 1949 prior to his discharge. Bristow was recalled to military service during the start of the Korean War but was not deployed.
Atlanta’s celebration includes the Juneteenth Atlanta Black History Parade, which begins at noon at Liberty Park and finishes at Centennial Olympic Park, and the Juneteenth Atlanta Music Festival at Centennial Olympic Park.
“CAF Airbase Georgia is honored to participate in the recognition of all Black military veterans, especially the Tuskegee Airmen and all who played critical roles in winning World War II to preserve our democracy,” said Airbase Georgia Leader Joel Perkins.