Retired USAF Lieutenant Colonel and Tuskegee Airman Hiram Mann passed away Saturday May 17th in Florida, less than one week before celebrating his 93rd birthday. Today we honor a man who was not only a hero to our country, but one of the biggest champions and hardest-working volunteers for the CAF Red Tail Squadron.
Hiram completed his pilot training in 1944, after three previous failed attempts to get into the program. His perseverance earned him his wings and a spot in the 332nd Fighter Group of the United States Army Air Forces (now the United States Air Force), now commonly referred to as the Tuskegee Airmen or Red Tails.
“Back when I wanted to get into the military, before America got into the fighting in WWII, I wanted to fly an airplane. I had never been in an airplane in my life, though we’d seen them fly over. Well, I was a Depression-era child and pennies were very, very, tight to come by, but I would save my pennies in my wooden box and go to the hobby shop and try to make model airplanes and things, when I wanted to fly.”
– Hiram Mann, The Huffington Post, January 2012
Steve Campos, CAF Red Tail Squadron volunteer, had many experiences working with Hiram on the project. His dedication was tireless, once even touring with Steve to 14 events in 15 days.
“Since I got to know Hiram in 2002, I’ve been in awe of his never-ending efforts to help and promote the Red Tail Squadron over the years,” said Steve. “He was a strong supporter and was also very proud that he was a part of the film that is shown as part of the RISE ABOVE Traveling Exhibit.”
Hiram will be remembered not only as a Tuskegee Airman, but also how he was always ready and willing to tell the story to everyone who was keenly interested.
“He was a mentor and role model, and we had so many fun times at speaking engagements. He was revered wherever he went,” remembers Steve. “I will always remember his sense of humor and how I enjoyed our conversations in between visits. Hiram was a true hero of the American experience and WWII.”
Services for Hiram will be held tomorrow, May 23rd, which would have been his 93rd birthday. The funeral will take place at St. James AME Church at 625 Dummitt Avenue in Titusville, Fla., with the viewing from 10:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. and the service from 11:00 a.m. to noon. For more information call 321-269-3645.
On behalf of the staff, volunteers and supporters of the CAF Red Tail Squadron, we bid a fond farewell to a great man who not only bravely served our country, but also continued to serve our communities and younger generations. In the face of great adversity, Hiram fought for his dream to fly and has continued to inspire others to RISE ABOVE.