Late Airman Still Bridging, In Death, In Honor
The late Tuskegee Airman who led a full life of service in northwest Indiana now has his name attached to a permanent fixture in the region.
The City of Gary and the Gary Chicago International Airport unveiled the Quentin P. Smith Tuskegee Airman Memorial Bridge. The airport road overpass honors the World War II veteran for his work as a long-time educator in the Gary Community School Corporation. He also served on the City Council and on the Board of Trustees for the Calumet College of Saint Joseph. Smith received a Congressional medal for his work defending the nation against segregation, noted at Friday’s bridge dedication ceremony by Nate Williams, “Smith and another black officer were arrested for defying orders to join the base officers club.”
Regional Development Authority President and Chief Executive Officer Bill Hanna paid tribute to the legendary leader, too. “You get this dedicated person, like Quentin, it overshadows hatred.”
The ceremony included words from Quentin P. Smith’s son, Quentin P. Smith, Jr. “I think it’s very appropriate that a bridge have his name. A bridge is to get you over obstacles. He’s done that for almost everyone…especially me.”
Honors included a presentation from the JROTC Honor Guard of West Side High School where Smith served as the first principal, along with recognition by Gary Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson. “Dr. Quentin P. Smith was an icon in the city of Gary…in this community.”
Two new signs bearing Smith’s name will go up at the new bridge once complete in July.