A Tuskegee Airman who disappeared nearly 80 years ago was laid to rest in his hometown of Salisbury, NC., local station WFAE reports.
During World War II, 2nd Lt. Fred Brewer vanished while on a mission over Europe on October 29, 1944, flying a P-51C Mustang fighter plane (Nicknamed "Traveling Light" after the Billie Holiday song) from an American base in Italy to escort bombers to Regensburg, Germany but he never returned, As one of 57 passengers on the mission, it was later reported that while in a thick patch of fog, Brewer’s plane went into a tailspin as he attempted to a steep climb to fly above the cloud.
He was survived by his parents and a younger sister.
According to the , Brewer’s body was buried in a civilian cemetery by Italian officials. In 1946, his body was moved to an American cemetery in Mirandola, Italy. His skeletal remains were identified then as X-125 in 1948.
Although his remains were buried in a soldier’s grave in Italy, Brewer’s remains were identified with the use of DNA in September.
After the testing was complete, Brewer’s last few remaining family members were notified earlier this year that the remains were his and would be returned to the U.S.Congresswoman Alma Adams paid tribute to Brewer on Wednesday saying that during a time of segregation, he fought for and gave his life for his country.
"Lt. Brewer gave the ultimate sacrifice for a country that did not yet see him as an equal citizen," Adams said. "In serving and in giving his life, Lt. Brewer showed extraordinary faith in his country and in democracy, that while imperfect in its protection and promotion of his life and livelihood, it could still be worthy of his ultimate sacrifice."
One of Brewer’s family members, Brenda Brewer, expressed her gratitude that his remains were identified and returned to his country.
Tuskegee Airman’s Remains Identified After Vanishing in WWII Mission in Italy
“This has been my life’s mission,” she said in an interview with Queen City News. “He is no longer X-125, who came up out [of] that grave in Florence, Italy. He is Fred Brewer, Second Lieutenant.”
In celebration of Brewer’s life, a memorial service was held in his honor on Wednesday (Dec.6) at Friendship Missionary Baptist Church and he was buried with full military honors at Salisbury National Cemetery.
“All those things that his mom, dad, and sister could not do to say goodbye, they’ve been done today,” Brenda Brewer said. “He had a proper church, funeral, or celebration.”
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