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Memorial Day Observance to Feature Tuskegee Airman

The annual event, this year titled, "The Price of Freedom," will begin at 11 a.m. on May 28.

Memorial Day Observance to Feature Tuskegee Airman

A Tuskegee Airman and a former U.S. Navy Seal will be the guest speakers at Monday's annual at Golden Gate National Cemetery in San Bruno.

The program, which organized by the Avenue of the Flags Committee, will begin at 11 a.m. The San Andreas Brass Band will play a musical prelude before the event starts, followed by a U.S. Coast Guard flyover.

Capt. Les Williams, 92, is one of the original Tuskegee Airmen. From 1941-49, more than 16,000 Tuskegee Airmen served in the military. Williams, a Belmont resident, was one of the first black bomber pilots commissioned by the U.S. Army Air Forces during World War II. Williams was part of the famed 332nd Fighter Group, which escorted bombers during the war and had one of the lowest loss records of all the escort fighter groups and was depicted in the movie, "Red Tails."

Mountain View resident and Daly City Police Officer Peter Skeehan served in more than 250 combat missions, according to Carolyn Livengood of the Avenue of the Flags Committee. He was awarded a Bronze Star medal and Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal, Livengood said.

Both Williams and Skeehan will share their stories at the solemn observance, this year titled, "The Price of Freedom," which honors those men and women who have died in service to the nation.

Leading up to the event, San Bruno Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts as well as Scouts from around the area and community members and veterans will place more than 112,700 small U.S. flags on gravesites throughout the cemetery.

Scouts will gather for a ceremony at 8:30 a.m. on Saturday, then disperse to place the flags. Volunteers are welcome to participate.

Updated and corrected at 9:45 p.m.: This story incorrectly stated that Capt. Les Williams is one of the few Tuskegee Airmen still living. It can't be verified how many Tuskegee Airmen are still alive. Also, it is a myth that the 332nd Fighter Group never lost a a bomber to an enemy aircraft. The 332d Fighter Group sometimes escorted bombers that were shot down by enemy aircraft. But, overall, they lost very few and destroyed well over a hundred enemy aircraft, including three German jets.

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