Oldest Surviving Member Of Tuskegee Airmen, Willie Rogers, Dies At 101

Photo credit: Tampa Bay Times

A former Tuskegee Airmen, Willie Rogers, died in St. Petersburg on Wednesday, CBS News reports. He was 101. Rogers was also the oldest surviving member of the original Tuskegee Airmen. But CBS Tampa affiliate WTS reports that he was pretty low-key about his participation over the years, some of his own family didn’t know about his past. Rogers was drafted into the army in 1942 as part of the 100th Air Engineer Squad. Rogers also served with the Red Tail Angels. In 2007, President George W. Bush awarded Rogers with the Congressional Gold Medal.

Under the leadership of Dr. Frederick D. Patterson, the School of Veterinary Medicine was created at Tuskegee Institute, now University. (According to the university, nearly 75 percent of Black veterinarians in America are Tuskegee graduates.) Dr. Patterson also brought Tuskegee Airmen flight training program to the Institute. The all-Black squadrons were highly decorated World War II combat veterans and pioneers of the modern day Civil Rights Movement. Tuskegee University states that 15,000 men and women shared the “Tuskegee Experience” from 1942 to 1946.