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LITTLE ROCK - Governor Mike Beebe today honored Little Rock native Milton Crenshaw, who will receive the Congressional Gold Medal from President Bush this Thursday for his service with the Tuskegee Airmen. The Congressional Gold Medal is the highest civilian honor bestowed by Congress.

"Arkansas is proud of Milton Crenshaw and all Americans who served with the Tuskegee Airman," Beebe said. "These men stood tall in the face of adversity at home to heroically fight for their country overseas and become military pioneers."

The Tuskegee Airmen were the first African-American fighter pilots to serve in the U.S. military. Despite efforts to prevent the unit from ever forming, the Tuskegee Airmen went on to become one of the most highly respected air-combat units of World War II, shooting down more than 100 enemy aircraft.

Milton Crenshaw was named the Primary Flight Instructor at Tuskegee in 1942, and would train hundreds of U.S. cadets to serve in combat missions during World War II, as well as in Korea and Vietnam. Crenshaw later helped charter the aviation program at Philander Smith College in Little Rock