Keep Your Airspeed Up
Heroic Tuskegee Airman and his wife talk about their new book at Gaston College on January 30
Gaston College is hosting a presentation and book signing by husband-and-wife co-authors Dr. Harold H. Brown and Dr. Marsha S. Bordner on Tuesday, January 30, about the couple’s new book, Keep Your Airspeed Up: The Story of a Tuskegee Airman. The book is an inspirational autobiography about heroic Tuskegee Airman, Lt. Colonel Harold H. Brown.
Brown graduated in 1944, from Tuskegee Army Air Field before being assigned to the 332nd Fighter Group. The Tuskegee Airmen or Red Tails were a group of African-American U.S. Armed Services pilots who flew and fought in World War II.
“As a child, I dreamed of being a pilot, even though at the time black men were regarded as incapable of flying for the military,” said Brown. “With the start of the flight-training program at Tuskegee Army Air Field in 1941, I got my chance to fly and graduate from the program in 1944.”
He added, “During World War II, I flew 30 missions as a bomber-escort fighter pilot before being shot down on a strafing mission and held as a German prisoner of war. I was only 20 years old. In April of 1945, General George Patton’s forces liberated me and the other German prisoners of war (POW’s).” After the war ended, he continued to serve in the U.S. Air Force, retiring as a lieutenant colonel with 23 years of active duty service.
In 1967, Brown began to build a new career and joined Columbus Technical Institute, a small technical college, in Columbus, Ohio. While a teacher and educator, he earned both a Master’s Degree and Ph.D. in Vocational-Technical Education from Ohio State University. He eventually became a Vice President for Academic Affairs. Over the next two decades, he worked at and helped the college grow from 500 students to nearly 9,000. Also, Dr. Brown worked with Dr. Patricia Skinner when she became the president at Gaston College. He served as the acting vice president for six months, before returning to Columbus, Ohio.
His wife, Dr. Marsha Bordner also an educator, is retired from her post as president of Terra Community College in Fremont, Ohio. Dr. Bordner says the book covers Brown’s early years in Minnesota, his time during World War II and the Strategic Air Command, and his experiences as a respected and beloved Ohio educator. “Over the years, I’ve been working on a biographical story about Harold and the Tuskegee Airmen. I think our children and so many others don’t know the history of African Americans,” she said.
“We both wanted to write something that would inspire young people to reach for their dreams and to never let life’s obstacles keep them from succeeding. My husband, now 93, is one of the last remaining original Tuskegee Airmen and our book is probably going to be the last autobiography of an original Tuskegee Airman. I think it’s critically important to share this important part of American history and to give these brave and heroic men the recognition they deserve,” she said.
Following the presentation, the couple will do a book signing. Copies of the book will be available for $35 each.
This event is free and open to the public. For more information, contact Hisayo Tokura-Gallo at 704-922-6341 or Tokura-Gallo.Hisayo@gaston.edu.
Nearly 1,000 African American men completed the Tuskegee flight training program and earned their wings. Approximately 355 of these pilots served overseas in the 332nd Fighter Group. They may be best known for their outstanding record of escorting and protecting U.S. bombers from German fighter aircraft. Some bomb crews referred to the 332nd pilots as “Red-Tailed Angels.” Their story has been featured in the 2012 movie release of “Red Tails” and 1995 HBO television movie “Tuskegee Airmen.”
Tuskegee Airmen, Inc. (TAI), is a non-profit organization has about 50 chapters throughout the country dedicated to preserving the history of the Tuskegee Airmen, supporting youth aviation training, and other programs.