Lemuel Rodney Custis National Award
Mr. Lemuel Rodney Custis earned a degree in Mathematics in 1938 from Howard University. Upon graduating, he was unsuccessful in finding a job in the insurance industry. He joined the Hartford Connecticut’s Police Department and became Connecticut’s first African American Police Officer. With the formation of the military program to train African American aviators, Mr. Custis entered flight school at age 26 and was one of the five of thirteen initial cadets to graduate and received their pilot wings in March of 1942.
Mr. Custis was a mentor to his fellow aviation cadets in mathematics and core values of the military and citizenship. His experience and leadership skills propelled him to be appointed Operations Officer of the 99th Fighter Squadron. During World War II, he flew 92 missions as a member of the 99th fighter squadron in North Africa and Italy.
Despite the denigration and insults of segregation in the U.S. Armed Forces, Captain Custis, with committed perseverance, during a Battle of Anzio, Italy in 1944, shot down an FW-190 aircraft and served with distinction in all combat engagements. For his military service during WWII, Captain Custis received the Distinguished Flying Cross, Air Medal with oak leaf clusters, and African and Italy Campaign awards.
After the war he returned home and became chief Audit Examiner for the Sales and Use Tax (he was the first African American to hold this position in the State of Connecticut). Mr. Custis was always giving of himself and through a bequest, to date, provided the largest amount of money to Tuskegee Airmen, Inc.
The Captain Lemuel Rodney Custis Award exemplifies the “Tuskegee Airmen Experience” An individual who measures up the characteristics of perseverance, determination and motivation will be selected to receive the award.
- Nominee who made a significant contribution to the goals and objectives of the Tuskegee Airmen, Inc.;
- Be a member in good standing in Tuskegee Airmen Inc., exemplify good citizenship and community involvement;
- Nominee who advanced a program for disadvantaged youths and/or young adults aspiring to be part of the work force;
- Created an educational program for youth to inspire them to and guide them through an aviation career or education related to science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM);
- Provide significant opportunities for youth college scholarships, inspiration to study and or pursue aerospace and/or military careers;
- Inspire youth to complete high school, pursue advance education or training in an economically employable skill.
Only one member of a chapter can be nominated for this award by the chapter’s nominating committee. The award year extends from July 1 of the past year through June 30 of the current year.
Presentation of Award Annually
At the National Convention, July 2016
A medallion that has the imprint of Mr. Custis on one side along with $500.00 cash to be awarded annually at convention beginning July 2016
Please begin your selection process in early May 2016. To be considered, submission must bear post mark date no later than May 31, 2016.
Mail nomination package to
MS. Faye J. McDaniel Chair
National Awards Committee
2247 West Coil St.
Indianapolis, IN 46260