Lucas film premiers for an Alaskan audience

Wednesday, January 4, 2012 - 20:00
“Redtails” were the forerunners of F-22 squadron
Senior Airman Marren Clay, 477th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron crew chief, gives a tour of the F-22 to actor Marcus Paulk. Paulk plays Deke Watkins in the new George Lucas film, Red Tails, about the Tuskegee Airmen. An advanced screening was held for a small group of Reservists and Anchorage citizens Dec 15.

A select group of Reserve Airmen and Anchorage citizens were treated to an advanced screening of the new George Lucas film, Red Tails, about the famed Tuskegee Airmen at the Tikhatnu movie theater in Anchorage Dec. 15.

The screening was offered to members of the 477th Fighter group because its heritage traces back to these heroic aviation pioneers. The Group's 302nd Fighter Squadron historically was part of the 332nd Fighter Group, also known as “The Redtails” the famous all-black unit that fought both American prejudice and Nazi militarism.

Additionally, another Tuskegee Airmen unit, the 477th Bombardment Group was activated in 1944. The 477th and the 302nd were reactivated here in October 2007 when the group became the Air Force Reserve Command's first F-22 Raptor unit and the only Air Force Reserve unit in Alaska.

One of the films actors, Marcus Paulk, who plays Deke Watkins in the film, was on hand to meet moviegoers before the advanced screening.

“It was really great to see one of the stars of the movie come out and take time to see what the 477th FG is all about,” said Master Sgt. Kanya Briner, 477th Force Support Squadron. “He was really nice and made sure that all that wanted to talk and take pictures with him, got the opportunity.”

Shortly before the movie began Col. Bryan Radliff, 477th Fighter Group commander introduced Lucas Films publicity manager, Tippy Bushkin, who explained that this was not the final version of the film but a rough cut before giving Paulk the floor.

“I really hope you enjoy this film and take away the message that we were trying to portray,” said Paulk to the 200 moviegoers in attendance. “It was an honor to do this film and pay respect to these great Americans.”

Earlier in the day Paulk and Bushkin toured the Tuskegee memorabilia that adorns the walls of the 477th FG headquarters building and got a tour of an F-22 by Senior Airman Marren Clay, 477th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron.

“That plane is sick,” said Paulk as he posted a picture of himself in front of the F-22 on his Twitter account. “I need fly to in one of those!”

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