RICHMOND, Ky. — At the end of March each year, the nation recognizes the Tuskegee Airmen who helped the U.S. in World War II. Now, that group of dedicated pilots and vets are being recognized in their hometown of Richmond, Kentucky.
Decades ago, the Tuskegee Airmen flew missions in World War II. Now, in Richmond, the city is honoring the heroes out of their city, like Lieutenant Frank Douglass Walker, someone who people say was respected and admired and someone they felt was one of them.
People like reverend Howard Miller of Mount Pleasant Baptist Church in Madison County knew Walker closely.
“Mr. Doug and I, we used to argue and play chess and I thought I’d round my teeth out learning how to play the game of chess. A lot of times right there in his living room.” Rev. Howard Miller recalled.
Miller also recalls visiting the local YMCA, community centers and even Walker’s home to play ping-pong, and black hearts and check out his intense fishing collection at his shop.
While Walker is immortalized on the side of the Madison County Library now, six more Madison County-raised Tuskegee military men and women are being remembered for their dedicated service. Those men and women are Lt. Frank D. Walker, Tech. Sgt. Donald Dillingham, Private First class Robert Ferrell, Sgt. John S. Harris, First Lt. William Walker, Private First class Carolyn Runyon, and First Lt. Eugene Runyon.
People in the community, including families of the vets, say it’s time to make their efforts known as those who paved the way for people of color to join the U.S. military during a time in which their civil rights were limited.
“I don’t want to say swept under the carpet, it’s just not readily available.” Rev. Miller said.
Walker’s daughter Eve said the historical marker is something she wishes came sooner, and that their history was almost forgotten.
“It wasn’t just him. I’m talking about all of them. It was like they were there, they did what they did and for a long time they kind of erased that,” she explained.
She says it’s something her dad would be proud of.
“For the city to come out and do this, it’s a big deal. It’s a great thing and I’m really happy. And I can tell ya, he’s happy, he’s smiling, he’s smiling.” Eve Walker B. said.
Miller says the marker will be a reminder for future generations to come.
“Several people here have been talking about just that. They’re making sure that we have a last generation that is aware of who we are, where we came from, and what it took to get here.” Rev. Miller said.
Aside from his service, Walker was known in the community as the first Black mail carrier and by family and in the community as “Doug.”