When children gaze upon a statue soon to be erected in the Allen County Airport, some hope they will feel like they can “rise above all obstacles.”
That’s because the statue they’ll be looking at is of a man who was told repeatedly that he “had no business flying a plane.” But he did it anyway.
Lt. Col. Charles Williams Sr. was a Tuskegee airman who grew up in Lima. The Tuskegee Airmen were an experiment of the Army Air Forces during World War II and the first black pilots in the armed forces.
Williams died in September 2013, but his legacy lives on, promoted by a group of people who believe in what he did.
“Something has got to be extra out there in the public eye to honor him and the Tuskegee Airmen,” said Stephen Carter, project coordinator and chairman of the statue committee.
“It’s something that’s very historical. Somebody here was part of that group, it’s something we should all be proud of.”
Carter, and a committee of four others who knew Williams or are passionate about the cause, is collecting money now to put the 6-foot-tall black-granite statue in the Allen County Airport terminal.
“The airport gets a lot of people that pass through,” Carter said, and flying was William’s job, so it seems fitting.
There are no other statues in the airport, said airport manager Ryan Huizinga, though it is working to get more Tuskegee memorabilia.
The project began in 2013 and the committee has been getting everything set up and letting people know of what it wants to do.
The statue costs $30,000. Carter wasn’t sure how much money had been raised since the committee announced the project in late August, but said he thinks it’s been “quite a bit.”
He thinks it will take some time to get all the money, though there’s no deadline for raising the money or getting the statue put up.
“It’s definitely a worthy donation and good cause for our community,” Carter said.
The committee wanted to erect a statue because it “lasts forever,” he said. “It’s to keep the legacy alive.”
Those interested can donate to the project through the Lima Community Foundation.