Transposing that day with the inauguration of the nation's first African-American president, Lawrence said, "I never thought I would live to see it."
Ezra Hill, 82, of Hampton, Va., who was an engineer with the unit, said the Tuskegee Airmen "never gave up" the hope that the military would be integrated. So many times, while he was in uniform, Hill said he was told, "We don't have colored boys here."
Grant Williams, also of Hampton, who had an administrative job with the unit from 1941-45, said the airmen suffered more discrimination in the United States then when they were deployed during World War II.
"We got much better treatment overseas than at home," the 92-year-old said.