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About 330 members of the famed Tuskegee Airmen have been invited to attend President-elect Barack Obama’s inauguration next month, The New York Times reported on Wednesday.

The group, the only surviving pilots and ground crew of the famed 16,000-member all-black World War II flying unit, were a major factor in the desegregation of the military in 1948.

The newspaper reported the invitation to the group came from Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., who serves as chairwoman of the Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies.

In a statement to the Times, committee staff director Howard Gantman said the invitation was extended because "they served honorably on behalf of our country, helped fight the battle to overcome racial barriers and because of the historic nature of this election, we thought they deserved to be there."

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