(Photo: Angela Cara Pancrazio)
Retired Lt. Col. Luke J. Weathers Jr., member of the legendary Tuskegee Airmen, died Saturday at 90 years old.
Weathers, whose war-time accomplishments include downing two German fighter planes that attacked Army Air Force bombers he was escorting, will be buried with full honors at Arlington National Cemetery.
"People should know this is a great American icon that has passed from us," retired Air Force Col. Richard Toliver of Goodyear, a fighter pilot in the Vietnam War told the Arizona Republic. "We've been blessed to have him among us."
The Tuskegee Airmen were an all-Black aerial combat unit assembled during World War II, which rose to excellence in the face of racism and segregation; successfully carrying out missions throughout Northern Africa and Europe and helping to win decisive victories for the Allied forces.
Weathers served in the Tuskegee Airmen from 1942 to 1945. In 2007, he was among 300 airmen who received the Congressional Gold Medal for their service in the war.
Despite his amazing accomplishments, Weathers is remembered as a humble man.
"There was no bravado or bragging," Toliver said. "He was a kind, humble person always willing to be engaged and doing things for his country and for his community.... He worked to open doors for women and minorities.”
Luke J. Weathers Jr. was born Dec. 16, 1920, in Grenada, MS, and attended the Xavier University of Louisiana in New Orleans. He died in Tucson where he lived for seven years.
Weathers is survived by his wife, Jacqueline; five children, 10 grandchildren and nine great-grandchildren. His funeral will be held Oct. 29 at St. Therese-Little Flower Catholic Church in Memphis.