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National Geographic Honors Overlooked Heroes of World War II

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National Geographic continues its longstanding tradition of bringing pivotal historical moments to life with two new specials premiering on June 3: “The Real Red Tails” at 8 p.m./7 p.m. c and “Erased: WW2’s Heroes of Color,” a four-part docuseries narrated and executive produced by Idris Elba, at 9 p.m./8 p.m. c. Both specials will be available for streaming the next day on Disney+ and Hulu.

Erased: WW2’s Heroes of Color” shines a light on the untold stories of over eight million soldiers of color who fought for the Allied forces during World War II. The series uncovers the long-lost legacies of these heroes, whose contributions have largely gone unrecognized.

Each episode of “Erased” focuses on the personal narratives of at least three extraordinary individuals, from a 16-year-old New Yorker to an Indian aristocrat. Through a blend of historical dramatizations and curated archival footage, the series bridges the past and present, highlighting new perspectives and shedding light on hidden heroes.

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The first episode, “Pearl Harbor,” tells the story of three Black sailors who survived the attack on Pearl Harbor and saved countless lives. The second episode, “D-Day,” uncovers the hidden heroes of the 320th Barrage Balloon Battalion, the only all-Black combat unit to fight on the D-Day beaches. “Dunkirk” reveals the story of Force K6, an Indian regiment of mule handlers, while “Battle of the Bulge” explores the untold story of the Black Panthers, an elite African American tank battalion.

The Real Red Tails” complements “Erased” by telling the story of the Tuskegee Airmen, a group of African-American pilots who flew red-tailed P-51 Mustangs during World War II. The special focuses on the discovery of a P-39 airplane in Lake Huron, Michigan, which belonged to Tuskegee pilot Second Lieutenant Frank Moody, who perished during a training mission in 1944. Underwater archaeologists work to recover parts of the plane, providing insights into the 80-year-old mystery.

These specials serve as a poignant reminder of the sacrifices made by soldiers of color during World War II, paying tribute to their courage and resilience. They also highlight the ongoing struggle for equality and recognition, showcasing the impact of these heroes not just on the battlefield but also in paving the way for future generations.

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Alastair James is the editor in chief for Memorable TV. He has been involved in media since his university days. Alastair is passionate about television, and some of his favourite shows include Line of Duty, Luther and Traitors. He is always on the lookout for hot new shows, and is always keen to share his knowledge with others.

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