As the highly anticipated film Red Tails opened in theaters this weekend and audiences took in the on-screen adaptation of the Tuskegee Airmen’s heroism, Lt. Col. Luke Joseph Weathers Jr., a real-life Airmen, was laid to rest with full honors at Arlington National Cemetery.
Weathers’s war-time credits include successfully escorting Army Air Force bombers by taking down two attacking German fighter planes. Still, he is remembered as a humble man.
"He never really opened up and talked about his war heroics at all," his son, Luke C. Weathers III, 62, told The Commercial Appeal. "A lot of stuff I learned about what he did and accomplished — and about the Tuskegee Airmen — came from outside sources.”
And it isn’t just Weathers’s son who remembers him to be modest about his heroic and historic past.
Retired Air Force Col. Richard Toliver, a fighter pilot in the Vietnam War and a friend of Weathers, recalled that he was determined to help advance the status of African-Americans rather than recount his accomplishments.
"There was no bravado or bragging," Toliver told the Arizona Republic. "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.”
However, the opening weekend of Red Tails was anything but subdued. After weeks of heavy publicity, the high-flying World War II drama chronicling the story of the Tuskegee Airmen featuring an all-Black cast, pulled in $19.1 million in its opening weekend. After Friday’s ceremony, Weathers’s son had plans to take in a matinee, The Commercial Appeal reports.
Weathers was born Dec. 16, 1920, in Grenada, MS, and attended the Xavier University of Louisiana in New Orleans. He 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. Later, Weathers went on to have a successful career as a Federal Aviation Administration air traffic controller.
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(Photo: REUTERS/Gary Cameron)
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