WASHINGTON— U.S. Senator John Boozman recognized the life and legacy of Milton Pitts Crenchaw, one of the original Tuskegee Airmen, in the Congressional Record, the official proceedings of Congress.
Crenchaw was born and raised in Little Rock. He passed away on November 17, 2015 and was laid to rest today at the Arkansas State Veterans Cemetery. The following remarks will be printed in the Congressional Record:
Mr. President, I rise today to honor Milton Pitts Crenchaw, an aviation pioneer from Little Rock, Arkansas who paved the way for integration in the United States Military and impacted generations of aviators.
Crenchaw, known as the “father of black aviation in Arkansas,” developed a love of flying while at the Tuskegee Institute. He exceled in the program and after earning his pilot license, he pursued his instructors certificate. Following the bombing of Pearl Harbor, Crenchaw joined the Army Air Corps Civilian Pilot Training Program as a flight instructor.
He had the distinction of being one of the original supervising squadron commanders for the Tuskegee Airmen. He trained hundreds of cadets during the 1940s, an accomplishment he was rightfully proud of.
“The first thing that he takes pride in is that he and the other black flight instructors paved the way for people of color to enter the field of aviation. He is proud that he was chosen to implement that program,” his daughter Dolores Crenchaw Singleton said in a recent interview.
Crenchaw helped break the barriers that existed in the military. His passion for aviation continued after his tenure at Tuskegee, serving as a flight instructor at several air bases, including Camp Rucker, Alabama, where he became the first black flight instructor.
Crenchaw honorably served with the U.S. Army Air Corps and the U.S. Air Force for more than 40 years.
He also shared his love of aviation with Arkansas, and he was instrumental in creating an aviation program at Philander Smith College in Little Rock. Crenchaw taught aviation at the school from 1947 to 1953, holding classes at Adams Field in the Central Flying Service building.
Along with the accolades of inductions in the Arkansas Aviation Hall of Fame and the Arkansas Black Hall of Fame, in 2007 he was awarded the Congressional Gold Medal along with other members we have come to admire as the Tuskegee Airmen.
Milton Pitts Crenchaw passed away on November 17, 2015. Today he will be laid to rest at the Arkansas State Veterans Cemetery in North Little Rock. He was a true American hero whose leadership helped secure victory and peace for all freedom loving people of the world.