U.S. Postal Service dedicates Harlem branch to Tuskegee Airmen

HARLEM, Manhattan — On Monday, community members and local politicians gathered at the Colonial Park Post Office on Macombs Place in Harlem as the building was renamed the Tuskegee Airmen Post Office

It honors the first black squadron activated in the Air Force during World War II that broke racial boundaries in the military.

"I think we needed this," said former Congressman Charlie Rangel.

Tuskegee Airman Wilfred DeFour was at the ceremony, unveiling a plaque with Congressman Adriano Espaillat, who spearheaded the renaming process.

"I feel great," said DeFour. "I appreciate all of the appreciation. It's a wonderful day for me."

DeFour, who is now 100, said he did not know his service would make history. He said he was just doing his job, serving as the chief official in the engineering office.

"I knew everything that went on in the organization because all the paperwork came through my desk," said DeFour.

After serving in the military, DeFour worked for 33 years for the U.S. Postal Service, including as a manager at the branch just dedicated.

The dedication was seen as an honor not just for DeFour and the Tuskegee Airmen, but for the Harlem community as a whole.

"Today is awesome," said Hannah Scarborough, who has lived in Harlem for 50 years. "It's just wonderful. Such a great honor to have this happen in our predominantly black community."

"This is very important for the neighborhood and for the Tuskegee Airmen," said Sharon Peterson of Harlem.

"This was a day that was just waiting to come," said Carol Scarborough.