‘A man who led the way for people like me': 97-year-old Colorado Springs man awarded Congressional Gold Medal
Franklin Macon was honored for his service in WWII on Sunday.
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (KKTV) - It’s very safe to say young Franklin Macon would be proud of the person he turned out to be.
On Sunday -- with careful COVID-19 precautions in place -- the 97-year-old was awarded his second Congressional Gold Medal for his WWII Civil Air Patrol Service.
Macon will be the first to say it himself: The road he traveled to where he is now was difficult. He endured and fought through some of our country’s worst segregation battles in history. That’s why award participants say it was so important to recognize him formally.
“The powers that be thought that Black people couldn’t fly airplanes, so they made a squadron of only Black men -- and it was still a segregated Army Air Corps at the time -- to go through flight school and the trials and tribulations of that flight school, with all the odds against them, of people trying and hoping and making and wanting them to fail, and they didn’t. They came out ahead,” said Lt. Col. Rochelle Kimbrell, a trailblazer herself who says without the progress Macon made along with all other Civil Air Patrol members and Tuskegee Airmen, she wouldn’t have gone on to become the first African-American woman Air Force fighter pilot.
“These gentlemen went through hard times as Black Americans getting into the Air Force and flying airplanes against all odds. I knew I wanted to be a pilot since I was in fourth grade, and if they hadn’t gone out and done that then there would have been more trails for me to blaze,” Kimbrell says.
Those original airmen came out ahead through proving their skills and worth and broke massive barriers in the military serving as the first Black aviators.
Tears came to Macon’s eyes as the adjutant general of Colorado, Brigadier Gen. Laura L. Clellan, placed the medal into his hands Sunday, recognizing him for that heroism.
Kimbrell adds there’s a lot of lessons people can take away from stories like Macon’s. One of those things; to respect and appreciate the contributions each individual can make.
“There’s a lot out there so I think people need to open their hearts and open their minds and their spirits and learn from one another because everyone has a story. You’d be surprised when you do ask questions of people at their heart level of who they are. Everyone has an impact to have," Lt. Colonel Kimbrell adds.
Mr. Macon was awarded a Congressional Gold Medal previously for his service as an original Tuskegee Airman.
There are less than 12 surviving Tuskegee Airmen today. There are two in Colorado, including Macon.
To read more about Macon and his great successes please click here.
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