POOLER, GA - World War II veterans are known to be ‘The Greatest Generation' of Americans. It's been 70 years since WWII, but a veteran in the Coastal Empire received the honor of her lifetime on Saturday. Sgt. Amelia Jones, 95, was jacketed as a Tuskegee Airman at the Mighty Eighth Air Force Museum in Pooler.
Sgt. Jones was born on Daufuskie Island, South Carolina, in 1919. She enlisted in the Women's Army Auxiliary Corps at Hunter Army Airfield in 1943, and served her country during WWII, in the 99th Pursuit Squadron based at Godman Army Air Field in Kentucky under then-Colonel Benjamin O. Davis, Jr. On October 25, 2014, she was finally recognized as a Tuskegee Airman.
“Thank you,” Jones repeated, in tears, to a group of children who applauded her entrance into the museum.
It was a moment nearly 70 years in the making.
"[It's] good to see the babies out to see me today. Oh, I'm so proud. I'm happy," Jones gloated.
Children on their trip to the Mighty Eighth Air Force Museum were amazed to see a real life original Tuskegee Airman.
"When I walked in the door and I saw those little kids, tears came to my eyes. I said, 'We have worked hard in the past.' And I hope they would follow in our footsteps," Jones said.
The Tuskegee Airmen were the first African American military aviators in the United States Armed Forces. They were segregated during their service in WWII, but served as fighter and bomber pilots.
“Oh yes, yes. That's my boys. That's MY boys,” Jones cried as she was presented a framed photograph of the original airmen.
Her contribution from homes in the Women's Army Auxiliary made the men's success abroad possible. She was honored with the iconic Tuskegee red jacket, cloaked in the symbol by a group of airmen out of Walterboro, South Carolina.
“It gives me an honor to be able to look at someone that prepared the way for me,” Retired USAF Chief Master Sgt. James Hampton said.
“I want you to know this day that I feel so happy, and so proud to have been affiliated with the Air Force," Sgt. Jones told the crowd.
It was John McCaskill, a historian with the U.S. Park Service, who learned that Jones qualified, when he met her in Washington, D.C., on her trip with Honor Flight Savannah. He calls her an icon, and a living piece of history.
"I cried because of God's faithfulness of preserving her to today, for someone who's earned this thing," McCaskill said.
He says he prayed each day since his discovery on September 6, 2014, that the 95-year-old would live to be honored.
"She kicked a lot of doors open, that so many other females in the military, and even African Americans that walk through, effortless. Those guys, they had some stuff to deal with. I mean, they were fighting fascism overseas, and racism at home," he says.
The red jacket that Sgt. Jones now wears with honor symbolizes the work that Tuskegee Airmen did to contribute to the eventual integration of the U.S. Armed Forces.