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Reception honoring Tuskegee airmen set for April 21

Reception honoring Tuskegee airmen set for April 21

(April 10, 2001)

A reception honoring the Tuskegee Airmen, a group of World War II African American aviators who comprised one of the most successful air combat groups in the military, is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. Saturday, April 21, at the University of California, Riverside.

The event, to be held in the Commons Cafeteria, is open to the public free of charge. Parking on campus is $3 per vehicle.

Serving as keynote speaker for the reception will be Lt. Col. Lee A. Archer, Jr., a member of the Tuskegee Airmen who piloted fighter aircraft during World War II. Archer is expected to speak about his military experience and the legacy of the Tuskegee Airmen, a fighter group that conducted aerial combat missions over North Africa and Europe.

Also appearing at the event will be Lt. Col. Stayce Harris, the first African American woman to command an Air Force or Air Force Reserve flying squadron. In February, Harris was appointed to the command of the Air Force Reserve's 729th Airlift Squadron at March Air Force Base. She directs a squadron of more than 100 personnel who fly C-141 Starlifter cargo planes to deliver combat forces or humanitarian aid.

The Tuskegee Airmen group was comprised of more than 1,000 African American aviators who were trained for combat missions at the Tuskegee Institute in Tuskegee, Ala. Some 450 had combat assignments, with many losing their lives. Highly decorated for their successful missions over the Mediterranean and North Africa, the Tuskegee Airmen became one of the most respected fighter groups in World War II.

Archer graduated in pilot class 43G in June 1943. He teamed up with Capt. Wendell O. Pruitt, forming the "Gruesome Twosome" in the 332nd Fighter Group. After the war, Archer completed a distinguished Air Force career during which he held several high-level command positions. Returning to civilian life in 1970, he joined General Foods Corp. and held several executive positions in the company. He lives in New Rochelle, N.Y.

The reception will also feature a performance by third-graders at Sugar Hill Elementary School in Moreno Valley, memorabilia displays, exhibits, and sales of collectibles, books and posters.

The reception is presented by UCR African Student Programs, the Department of Ethnic Studies, the Center for Ideas and Society and the Gender Education and Resource Services Office. For more information, call African Student Programs at (909) 787-4576.

The University of California, Riverside ( is a doctoral research university, a living laboratory for groundbreaking exploration of issues critical to Inland Southern California, the state and communities around the world. Reflecting California's diverse culture, UCR's enrollment has exceeded 21,000 students. The campus opened a medical school in 2013 and has reached the heart of the Coachella Valley by way of the UCR Palm Desert Center. The campus has an annual statewide economic impact of more than $1 billion.

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