The city of Lancaster and Eastside High School this week hosted members of the famous Tuskegee Airmen. The gathering took place at the Tuskegee Monument in front of the Western Hotel Museum—part of the city’s Aerospace Walk of Honor—on the BLVD in downtown Lancaster.

On hand were Lt. Colonel Ted Lumpkin, Master Sergeant Levi Thornhill and various members of the Tuskegee Airmen Los Angeles Chapter. Former Lancaster Mayor Bishop Henry Hearns, who was instrumental in the establishment of the Tuskegee Monument in 1999, welcomed the group and was joined by Lancaster Councilwoman Angela Underwood-Jacobs.

The guests of honor then proceeded to Eastside High where they shared their experiences with the students before engaging in a question-and-answer session.

“Today is indeed a historic moment, where such heroes of World War II can impart upon our young people their legacy, history and undaunted spirit,” said Lancaster Mayor R. Rex Parris. “We honor the Tuskegee Airmen today—and every day—as war heroes, aviation greats, and fearless pioneers who overcame adversity to help stimulate the integration of our country’s military.”

The Tuskegee Airmen were the U.S. military’s first African American fighter pilots. During World War II when the nation’s military was segregated by race, the Tuskegee Airmen paved the way for the integration of the armed forces. The term “Tuskegee Airmen” refers not only to the pilots, but to the entire team who supported them, including bombardiers, navigators, instructors and support and maintenance crews.