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ABCO Salutes James Cotten
Tuskegee Airman and Board Member

James Cotten serves the ABCO community in the capacity of Board Member and has been on the Supervisory Committee for more than nine years. He has been involved with Credit Unions before, having served previously for over 20 years on the New Jersey Credit Union League Board of Directors.

What you may not know is in January 1945, 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.

Experiencing adversity, limited opportunities and denial of leadership roles because of their race, they persevered and overcame prejudice, racism and segregation. The Tuskegee Airmen became one of the most skilled and respected fighter groups of World War II, flying four different types of aircraft in combat, (P-40, P-39, P-47 and the P-51) and dismantling the mindset that African-Americans could not fly planes or maintain sophisticated combat aircraft.

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.

After more than 20 years serving in the Army and Air Force, followed by 45 years of civil service at Joint Base McGuire-Lakehurst, James Cotten received his Congressional Gold Medal at a ceremony in May on the base before a large group of family and friends. Congressional Representative Jon Runyan of Mount Laurel presented the medal. “The Tuskegee Airmen made me a better person,” Cotten said. “It was very satisfying to be among such a select group.” In August, Cotten was appointed by Congressman Jon Runyon to serve on a statewide Veteran’s Advisory Committee.

At 85, he continues to embrace and exemplify the two mottos he’s lived by: One of the Tuskegee Airmen— “Thou Shalt Not Quit” and the other of his Twenty Plus Retirement Club—“Still Serving.” We are proud to have him “still serving” as a volunteer with the ABCO community!

You can read the Burlington County Times article here:
Willingboro Resident Receives High Honors as Tuskegee Airman

Learn more about the Tuskegee Airmen at their website:
www.tuskgeeairmen.org.

 

 

 

 

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