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USAF CMSgt James Cotten
In The Interest Of The Nation

"I learned about respect. Regardless of what color you are, whether you’re male or female, what got me through was my respect and understanding of people."

As a Tuskegee Airman and the first African American at Langley Air Force Base, James Cotten helped bridge the social gaps present in America at the height of racial tension. His dedication to his country and the American dream played a part in shaping the future of our Air Force and ultimately our nation.

U.S. Air Force Chief Master Sgt. (Ret.) James A. Cotten's 45 years of proud service to country began in January 1945 ... when he was selected for assignment to the Tuskegee Airmen Fighter Group, known as the ‘Red Tails’. The pilots, navigators, bombardiers, maintenance, support staff, instructors and all personnel who kept the planes in the air, along with others who supported their achievements, paved the way for integration of our U.S. Military.

In July of 1949, he was assigned to the 334th Fighter Interceptor Squadron 4th Fighter Group as Air Operations NCO. He was the first African-American assigned to this organization after integration of the U.S. Armed Forces.

His military awards consist of the Air Force Commendation Medal (First Oak Leaf Cluster), Air Force Good Conduct Medal, Air Force Longevity Service Award (with four Bronze Clusters), Air Force Outstanding Unit Award, World War II Victory Award and the National Defense Service Award. He also was honored with the  Congressional Gold Medal.

Note: James A. Cotten is 90 years old in this video.

U.S. Air Force video by Senior Airman Nicolas Myers - August 2017

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