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Barbara Lombardo writes about journalism, local news and anything else that strikes her fancy. She is executive editor of The Saratogian, The Record and the Community News, sister papers in the Digital First Media family. Follow her on Twitter @Barb_Lombardo.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

"Red Tails" recognizes heroes like Saratoga Springs' own Clarence Dart

I am so excited about Friday afternoon’s debut of the George Lucas movie “Red Tails,” starring Oscar winner Cuba Gooding Jr. I hope it will sear into the public memory the story of the Tuskegee Airmen, the African-American World War II fighter pilots who served bravely and with dignity in the face of racial indignities.

My special interest is because one of those men is a member of our community who is dear to my heart, Clarence Dart.

Clarence and his wife Millie raised their family in a cozy Saratoga Springs home that I was lucky enough to move next door to some 30 years ago. It was several years before I realized this modest man flew 95 missions — and was shot down twice — as a member of the famed Tuskegee Airmen.

I wasn’t the only one slow to recognize a hero in our midst. It wasn’t until 2007 that the Tuskegee Airmen were honored with a Congressional Gold Medal. Fortunately, Clarence Dart and family members were among those present for the long-overdue recognition. Various local ceremonies honoring Clarence Dart have since followed.

I tweeted Wednesday about the upcoming movie and, an admitted Twitter novice, I was astonished at the endless string of tweets with the #redtails hashtag. I am in good company, nationwide.

“It’s important to have a movie like this,” said Clarence Dart’s son, Warren, a Maple Avenue Middle School teacher, in an interview with Saratogian reporter Paul Post. “I wouldn’t know this history if my father wasn’t a Tuskegee Airman. They didn’t teach it when I was in school. It wasn’t talked about.” You can read Paul Post’s story and see a trailer of the movie on The Saratogian website at

The plan for Friday afternoon is for Clarence, 91, to be accompanied to “Red Tails” by his 10-year-old grandson, Gregor. A film about black fighter pilots is called “Red Tails” because the segregated pilots set apart their planes by painting the tails red. I hope the debut will be a red letter day.

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Anonymous Dan said...

Great Post Barbara. I am hoping to see this movie also to see Hollywood honor these American heroes.

January 21, 2012 at 10:33 AM 

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