Nationally syndicated on-air personality Tom Joyner and his childhood friend, Grammy Award-winning singer Lionel Richie return to their hometown, Tuskegee, Ala., for an endearing tribute to the Tuskegee Airmen. The fly jock said on his popular eponymous morning radio show, “Two home boys came home. I had the best time.”

Joyner and Richie, who will both celebrate their 63rd birthdays this year, attended the program which was held at Tuskegee University, the home of the Army Air Corps program to train blacks to fly and maintain combat aircraft then named, the Division of Aeronautics of Tuskegee Institute. The Tuskegee Airmen, an all-black squadron, included pilots, navigators, bombardiers, maintenance and support staff, instructors, and all the personnel who kept the planes in the air.

The tribute was twofold. One, to honor the airmen because they never lost a bomber under their escort during World War II, a feat that earned them the nickname Red Tail Angels — the propeller and tail of their planes were red. Two, for a day of entertainment, which included a screening of George Lucas’ film Red Tails, opening in theaters this weekend.

Actor Terrence Howard, who plays Colonel A.J. Bullard in the film, was in attendance, as well as Joyner’s son, Oscar. Joyner’s father, Hercules Joyner, was accepted into the flight training program.

Richie will release a new album titled Tuskegee this March.

Yvette Caslin

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