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Tuskegee Airmen monument in Sewickley Cemetery could be in place by fall

| Thursday, March 28, 2013, 11:37 a.m.
In addition to the proposed Tuskegee Memorial in Sewickley, an exhibit with photographs and memorabilia honoring the Tuskegee airmen is planned at Pittsburgh International Airport. Regis Bobonis Sr., founder and chairman of the Tuskegee Airmen Memorial of the Greater Pittsburgh Region Inc. spoke at the project unveiling in February. Submitted

If all goes as planned, the long-awaited Tuskegee Airmen monument will be in place at Sewickley Cemetery in early fall.

Crescendo Group Consultants Inc. President Rich Dieter said it was necessary to seek a new set of bids for the project honoring the large number of western Pennsylvanians who were affiliated with the all-black Army Air Corps unit.

When the project first was advertised in mid-October, only two companies submitted bids, but neither was in keeping with the $100,000 Allegheny County grant requirements, Dieter said.

The latest round of bids are due in late April, and, Dieter said, the project already has sparked significant interest.

“We're more optimistic this time,” he said.

Dieter said construction should begin on the project at Sewickley Cemetery over the summer. Phase one, which includes a plaza, four mourning benches, eight headstones and a monument with a granite Red Tail airplane, is expected to be dedicated in late September or early October.

“It's getting closer to reality,” Dieter said.

Phase two of the project will include a monument featuring a Tuskegee Airmen mural and two granite towers boasting names of 97 pilots, navigators, bombardiers and support crew members from the region.

Dieter said currently there is no timetable for that portion of the project.

The total cost of the project will be around $240,000, though, because bids are not due until late April, Dieter called that figure “a moving target.”

He said $135,000 has been raised so far, and he expects another $65,000 more will be raised by mid-summer.

In an effort to drum up interest about the project and to further commemorate the local Tuskegee Airmen, project officials unveiled at a February fundraiser plans for a large permanent exhibit to be constructed at Pittsburgh International Airport.

The exhibit, which measures 22 feet wide and 16 feet deep and will feature photos of airmen, as well as memorabilia, will be located near the A concourse, where, Dieter said, approximately 6,000 people pass each day.

The group also is working with branch managers of four Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh branches in Homewood, the Hill District, North Side and South Side on smaller exhibits honoring airmen who were from those neighborhoods.

Kristina Serafini is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at kserafini@tribweb.com. or 412-324-1405.

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