America lost a true hero when Willie Rogers, the oldest living member of the Tuskegee Airmen died at the age of 101 in St Petersburg, Florida on November 18th, 2016.
The Tuskegee Airmen was the unofficial name given to a group of African-Americans that fought in World War II. Most famously known for their pilots, the Tuskegee Airmen name applied to all members of the group including navigators, mechanics, and ground personnel support.
The units name derived from the fact that all the pilots were trained at Tuskegee Army Air Field located near Tuskegee, Alabama. Their official US Army Air Force designation was the 332nd Fighter Group and the 477th Bombardment Group.
According to the Tampa Bay Times, Mr. Rogers served on the ground, not as a pilot and never told his family about his time with the Airmen.
They knew he had served in World War II, but he did not reveal that portion of the story until 2012.
Part of the reason for that silence, he’d tell his family, was because his work was on the ground in logistics and administration, not in the sky where the heroics took place.
“He would always say there were many who deserved attention more, but were not here to receive it,” Williams said.
But Mr. Rogers was involved in military action and was shot in the stomach and leg by German soldiers during a mission in Italy in January 1943.
He spent three months in a hospital in London and then returned to the war.
Read More Here: Oldest remaining Tuskegee Airman dies at 101
St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman acknowledged Rogers’ death on social media Saturday.
In 2007 the Tuskegee Airmen were awarded the Congressional Gold Medal. Almost 1000 African-American pilots were trained in this segregated unit of the United States Army Air Force. The unit was also known as the Red Tails due to the fact that they painted the tails of their aircraft red. They were officially established in 1941.