Tuskegee Airmen ready to take part in history -- again

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For years, Robert Searcy tried to forget serving as a Tuskegee Airman during World War II. Sometimes, he thought of his service in the segregated military as two years, 10 months and 27 days lost...

He never bothered to join national airmen's groups, skipped their award ceremonies and movie premieres and stuffed his military honors away in a dog-eared envelope.

Then last month, President-elect Barack Obama invited the more than 300 surviving airmen to his inauguration.

About 16 airmen from Los Angeles claimed tickets, including Theodore "Ted" Lumpkin, 90, president of the Los Angeles chapter of , Tuskegee Airmen Inc., a national airmen's group.

Searcy, 87, searched his Van Nuys apartment, fished out his discharge paperwork and gave it to the airmen's group, which confirmed he is a "DOTA" -- Documented Original Tuskegee Airman.

Now Searcy is preparing to join the other airmen traveling to the inauguration, where they will sit up front, near former presidents and members of Congress, and share memories, good and bad.

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