100-year-old Tuskegee Airman passes away

Tuskegee Airman Wilfred DeFour with Jackie Robinson's widow, Rachel, in New York in 2012. Tuskegee Airman Wilfred DeFour with Jackie Robinson's widow, Rachel, in New York in 2012.

Following his time in the Army, Wilford DeFour worked for the U.S. Postal Service for 33 years, according to WABC.

Posted: Dec 8, 2018 11:10 PM
Updated: Dec 8, 2018 11:14 PM

A group of historic military service members lost one more of their ranks early Saturday morning. Wilford DeFour, 100-year-old member of the Tuskegee Airmen died in his home, according to CNN.

“That's just living history that's actually leaving us,” said Hezekiah Gibson, president of the Tuskegee Airmen Motorcycle Club of Alabama.

DeFour served as an aircraft technician during World War II. He was one of several hundred African-American men who trained at the Tuskegee Army Airfield in Macon County, Alabama.

The group made history as the first African-American Army aviators. A historian of the Airmen told CNN back in 2015 that there were likely only about 200 or so left who went through the Tuskegee experience.

“Believe it or not, there's a lot of young people out there that don't know who the Tuskegee Airmen were,” said Gibson.

Gibson’s chapter of the motorcycle club visits schools and does a number of projects around Huntsville in the spirit of the Airmen and to ensure that people don’t forget their historical contribution.

“They actually kind of turned the tide for World War II. When they couldn't find anyone that would actually stick with the bombers, they were the ones who stayed on target. It wasn't about them, it was about the bigger cause,” said Gibson

“It was a great experience. We didn't know that we were making history at the time. We were just doing our job. That was about the size of it,” DeFour told WABC back in November.

Even after the war, folks like DeFour continued to serve the community. According to WABC, DeFour worked for the U.S. Postal Service for 33 years.

Last month, he was present to see a post office in Harlem renamed for the Airmen.

“I regret so many of my comrades are no longer here with us,” DeFour said.

New York Officers told CNN they believe DeFour died Saturday morning of natural causes. To learn more about the Tuskegee Airmen, click here.

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