The City of Ocoee will honor fallen troops at its annual Memorial Day Ceremony on Friday, May 27, at 11:00 am. The ceremony will take place at the Ocoee Lakeshore Center, 125 North Lakeshore Drive. The public is invited to attend.
The city is deeply honored to welcome former Tuskegee Airman Daniel Keel as its keynote speaker. The 93-year-old aviator is one of the last surviving members of the famed group of African-American military pilots who fought in World War II. Mr. Keel served in the U.S. Army Air Corps during World War II as a Billy Mitchell B-25 pilot. He left the military in 1946 and received a commercial pilot’s license, although at the time black pilots were not allowed to fly commercial airplanes. Mr. Keel continued his education, started a successful electrical contracting company in Massachusetts and retired in 1998. He and his wife of 72 years, Barbara, live in Clermont.
The Tuskegee Airmen were formed in 1941 in Tuskegee, Alabama. They would go on to serve as the first black members of the United States Armed Forces. According to the U.S. Air Force website, 992 men completed pilot training with 450 serving in combat overseas. The Tuskegee Airmen flew on more than 200 bomber escort missions and shot down or damaged more than 409 German planes. They were also responsible for sinking a warship. Their planes had red propellers and tails earning them the nickname “Red Tails.”
The ceremony will include a processional to the Ocoee Memorial Wall where a wreath will be set in place. The Memorial Wall is inscribed with the names of Ocoee residents who gave their lives for freedom. Ocoee Police Officer Duane Hunt will sing the National Anthem and there will be ceremonial flag presentations by the Ocoee High School Air Force JROTC Color Guard and Ocoee Police Department Honor Guard.
After the ceremony, refreshments will be served. For more information, please call 407-905-3100.