A new state law will designate part of a central Missouri highway in honor of a Tuskegee Airman from Missouri. The “Sergeant James L Shipley Memorial Highway” will be located in Moniteau County.

The Tuskegee Airmen served in WWII as America’s first Black military pilots. They were also known as the “Red Tails,” due to the distinctive color of their planes.

Shipley served as a mechanic with the 332nd fighter group of the U.S. Army Air Forces. He voluntarily joined the military at the age of 19.

Military historian, Jeremy Amick, helped to make the designation a reality.

“These were African Americans who fought a war on two fronts- one against enemy forces in World War II and then one where they came home fighting for civil rights. And Jim was on the forefront of that,” Amick said during a ceremonial signing on the bill.

In 2007, Shipley and his unit received the Congressional Gold Medal from President George W. Bush, more than 60 years after leaving the service.

Shipley died last year in Tipton at the age of 99. He was Missouri’s last living Tuskegee Airman.

“Anybody who knows anything about the Tuskegee Airmen know that their name is synonymous with heroes,” said Amick. “Anybody who knows anything about the Tipton community, he was a beloved member and a true American hero.”

To view Senate Bill 127, click here.

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