Daniel Keel is turning 101 this month and the King’s Ridge Men’s Club, along with neighbors and friends are celebrating this very special event with him.  A neighborhood parade will be held in his honor on September 25th. 
Daniel has not only reached the very special age of 101 but is one of the original Tuskegee Airmen.
Daniel Keel was born in Mineola, New York in 1922 and raised in South Carolina and Massachusetts, He is a 1941 graduate of Boston Latin School, where he received a classical education which included Latin and German, while also attaining the rank of Cadet 2nd Lieutenant in his JROTC regiment.

He then continued his education at Northeastern University in Boston, majoring in aeronautical engineering.

The first class of cadets graduated from Tuskegee Army Air Field in March 1942 to become the nation’s first African-American military pilots, now known as the Tuskegee Airmen. Over 16,000 Tuskegee Airmen trained in Alabama. Keel was drafted into the US Army Air Corps as an aviation cadet in 1943, and began his initial training at Keesler Army Air Field in Biloxi, MS and Tuskegee Army Air Field, AL.

Keel then continued his training at Hondo Army Air Field, TX, receiving his Twin Engine Navigator rating in 1944; followed by completing his Second Rating as an Aerial Bombardier at Midland Army Air Field, TX.

While at Midland, he and his fellow Tuskegee Airmen officers sent a letter to the Inspector General in Washington, DC in protest of the unequal and segregated facilities on base. Social facilities were soon desegregated much to the consternation of local commanders. This incident was not declassified until 2015.

Keel earned his Third Rating as a Pilot at Tuskegee where he successfully completed Basic Single Engine training in the T-6 Texan Trainer. He then completed training in the B-25 “Mitchell” medium bomber in preparation of serving in the Pacific Theater with the 477th Composite Group. However, WW II ended prior to his deployment. Nonetheless, Keel holds the distinction of being one of only three Black Officers to earn Three Aeronautical Ratings during WW II.

Following his discharge in 1946, Keel obtained a Commercial Multi-Engine Pilot’s License with the dream that he could continue his passion for flying. Unfortunately, Black Pilots weren’t hired by commercial airlines until the 1960s. Instead, Keel together with his wife Barbara raised eight children in Massachusetts while becoming a Master Electrician and prominent commercial contractor until his retirement to Central Florida in 1998.

Keel has been the Guest of Honor at many speaking engagements and has accepted multiple awards for his service to his country. In March of 2007, he together with other surviving Tuskegee Airmen, traveled to Statuary Hall at the US Capitol in Washington DC to accept from President George W. Bush and Speaker of the US House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi, the Congressional Gold Medal, the highest civilian honor that Congress can bestow.

This month Keel turns 101 years old. He still continues to serve his community by sharing his story and the story of the thousands of men and women who honorably served as Tuskegee Airmen.

To learn more about Daniel Keel and other activities that he participated in, please visit the National Tuskegee Airmen Website at the following location: www.TuskegeeAirmen.org.

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