We are all Americans
By Tech. Sgt. Brett R. Ewald, 148th Fighter Wing Public Affairs
/ Published June 25, 2012
DULUTH, Minn. -- U. S. Air Force Maj. (Ret.) Joseph "Joe" Philip Gomer, 92, was monumentalized in bronze and stone during a statue unveiling and dedication ceremony June 23, 2012 at the local Commemorative Air Force hangar, Duluth, Minn. The ceremony focused on Gomer and the new monument, which is a life-sized bronze statue resembling the World War II Tuskegee Airman fighter pilot.
It was attended by more than 200 family, friends and active and retired military members. His statue will permanently be on display at the new Duluth International Airport terminal in the fall of 2012.
Gomer is one of more than 960 Tuskegee Airmen, an all African-American fighter pilot unit of the Army Air Corps during World War II. The Tuskegee Airmen were part of the 332nd Fighter Group and were commonly known as the "Red Tails" or "Red Tail Angels" for the distinctive paint markings on their aircraft tails. The "Red Tails" hold the significance of having never lost a bomber aircraft to the enemy while they were escorting them. They accomplished this feat at a high cost, losing 66 airmen in aerial combat. Gomer himself flew 68 combat missions, or sorties, during his World War II service. Along with fighting the enemy, the Tuskegee Airmen had to fight adversity and racism in a segregated U.S. military. "I flew for my parents, for my race, for our battle for first-class citizenship and for my country," said Gomer.
Gomer continued his military career after the war, seeing the de-segregation of the military in 1948. His last duty station was at the former Duluth Air National Guard Base, Minn.. Major Gomer retired from the U. S. Air Force in 1964 after a military career spanning more than two decades.
Gomer has raised his family stressing the value of earning an education. He speaks often to youths to emphasize the importance of an education and the role it has played throughout his life. He has been inducted in the Iowa Aviation Hall of Fame, possesses an honorary Doctorate of Humanities from Ellsworth College, Iowa, was featured in the "HistoryMakers Project", and was awarded the Congressional Gold Medal.