Willie Rogers
Willie Rogers

Willie Rogers, The Oldest Surviving Tuskegee Airmen Has Passed Away At 101

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Willie Rogers, one of the last surviving Tuskegee Airman, has passed away. Rogers lived in St. Petersburg, Florida for the last fifty years of his life. Recently, Rogers moved into a senior apartment complex. Every Sunday he walked to attend service at the historic Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church. Rogers was drafted into the army back in 1942. He served with the 100th Air Engineer Squad and the famed Red Tail Angels. He was honored by President George W. Bush with the prestigious Congressional Gold Medal. During his military service Rogers worked in logistics. The Tuskegee Airmen was the unofficial name for the group of African-American military pilots who served during World War 2 and on. They were the first African-American military pilots in U.S. history to do so.

Though facing racism, Jim Crow laws, and discrimination, the Tuskegee airman became highly respected due to their impeccable fighting record. In over 200 combat missions the outfit lost zero bombers during firefights. At the time, the military and most of the federal government was segregated along racial lines. The Tuskegee Airmen were officially apart of the 332nd Fighter Group and the 477th Bombardment Group of the United States Army Air Forces. From 1942-1946 around 15,000 people, men and women, were apart of the “Tuskegee Experience,” which included bombardiers, navigators, instructors, crew chiefs, mechanics, nurses, cooks and host of other support personnel.

Willie Rogers was 101-years-old.

Correction: A previous version of this article incorrectly stated that Willie Rogers was the last surviving Tuskegee Airmen. Rogers was rather the oldest surviving, not the last.

H/T: Ebony