UPDATED: Tuskegee Airman Honored by Hometown High School
Second Lt. Alfred M. Gorham, Dr. Conrad Andringa and Olympian Gwen Jorgensen were inducted into the Waukesha South High School Wall of Fame on Friday.
Editor's Note: This article was updated at 9:15 p.m. Monday with more information about Dr. Conrad Andringa.
Second Lt. Alfred M. Gorham, the only pilot from Wisconsin to fly with the Tuskegee Airmen, struggled to fit in.
Gorham was a member of the group of black World War II pilots who were known for their skilled fighting during the war despite facing segregation and prejudice.
“He faced a continued battle of segregation, mistrust and outright hate,” said David Isabell, a Waukesha resident who researched Gorham. “He was from Wisconsin, from Waukesha, a small, little dinky town. … The Northern blacks didn’t like him because he was a small, country bumpkin. The Southern blacks didn’t like him because he was a Northern black, and the whites, of course, didn’t like him because he was black.”
Gorham, who died in 2009, and two others were inducted into the Waukesha South High School Wall of Fame on Friday.
Dr. Conrad Andringa, who was also inducted, asked students at Waukesha South to give an extra round of applause for Gorham. Because the Tuskegee airmen were placed on segregated bases, there were unfounded concerns that they wouldn’t keep white bombers safe. But the Tuksegee airmen broke past the barriers of racism to be respected fighters.
“By the end of (World War II) every bomb pilot was asking for the red tails,” said Andringa, who graduated from the school in 1956.
Andringa said he was honored and humbled for being named to the Wall of Fame at Waukesha South.
“This is a very meaningful award to me.” Andringa said. “I have been fortunate to receive other awards in the past, but this is from my high school.”
Since 1968 Andringa has been active in youth, high school and college sports medicine. He has served on the WIAA Sports Medical Advisory Committee for 40 years and as its chair for more than 30 years. He has been the physician for more than 10 different high school championship tournaments yearly for the last 35 years.
Andringa was the team physician for the U.S. Olympic hockey team in Austria in 1976. He has been awarded many honors including Madison Sports Hall of Fame, Blue Line Club Service Award, Dave McLain Distinguished Service Award from the Wisconsin Football Coaches Association, and the Madison Service Club Olympian of the Year.
With a few shouts of “USA, USA” from Waukesha South students, Olympian Gwen Jorgensen, Class of 2004, was also inducted into the Wall of Fame. Jorgensen placed 38th in the London 2012 Olympics. She likely would have placed higher if it wasn’t for a flat tire that bumped her to the back of the pack.
“I learned a lot of my core values here at Waukesha South – dedication, passion, energy, focus, all of those things,” Jorgensen said. “I hope you guys take the time to listen to your teachers. You may think class is not worth it, but I tell you, if you learn one thing from that class – that is one more thing than you knew going into it.”
The addition of the three names to the Wall of Fame brings the total to 58 Waukesha South alumni being honored by the school since October 2001, according to Athletics Director Dan Domach.
“The project is meant to provide positive roll models for our students and to honor those who have made great contributions to our society,” Domach said. “… They have all lived the school’s mission of learning, growing, succeeding, every person, every day.”