Dr. Roscoe C. Brown Jr., who flew with the legendary Tuskegee Airmen in World War II, has died at the age of 94. Brown flew 68 combat missions and earned a Distinguished Flying Cross. He resided in Riverdale, New York located in the Bronx of New York City.
Born March 9, 1922, Brown graduated from the Tuskegee Flight School in March 1944 and served in the US Army Air Forces in Europe during World War II. Brown, who held a PhD in education, later became President of Bronx Community College.
“Fighter pilots are like athletes. And I was a pretty good pilot.” Brown said back in May. After his flying days, Brown kept up his athleticism becoming a 9 time New York City marathoner. Even at age 94, he remained true to his word, keeping up his physical fitness by staying active and making daily walks on his treadmill.
The Tuskegee Airmen were the first African American aviators in the United States Armed Forces. Before 1940, African Americans were barred from flying in the US military. With the American military racially segregated, the Tuskegee Airmen trained separately through the Tuskegee Institute at the Tuskegee Army Air Field. The Tuskegee Airmen flew a total of 1491 total combat missions during WWII.
Tuskegee Airmen refers to all who were involved in the so-called “Tuskegee Experience,” the Army Air Corps program to train African Americans to fly and maintain combat aircraft.
“When I was a Tuskegee Airman, I knew that I was good, I knew that I had to challenge the system, and I loved to fly” said Brown.
“My message to young people is to keep on working,” he continued. “You’ve got to be better, you’ve got to be disclipined, you’ve gotta believe. And if you believe you can overcome, you can overcome. That’s the story of the Tuskegee Airmen.”
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Top photo: Tuskegee Airmen stand in front of a P-40. Courtesy: Wikipedia