He was the oldest and last surviving member of the famed Tuskegee Airmen; Willie Nile Rogers died Friday in St. Petersburg, Florida from complications of a stroke. He was 101.
Rogers died Friday evening, said Rev. Kenny Irby, the pastor at the Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church. He lived in a senior apartment complex near the church, and walked the short distance to worship every Sunday, up until three weeks before his death.
“He was a super loving man who cared deeply about his community and his family,” said Irby. “Humble at the highest level.”
Rogers was drafted into the army in 1942 and was part of the 100th Air Engineer Squad. Rogers also served with the Red Tail Angels. He was wounded in action, shot in the stomach and leg by German soldiers, during a mission in Italy in January 1943.
During WW II Rogers was a master sergeant with the first black military airmen, a member of the original 100th Fighter Squadron.
Rogers was among 300 surviving Tuskegee Airmen honored in 2007 by then President George W. Bush with the Congressional Gold Medal. Mr. Rogers’ nephew, Clinton Glover, said his uncle deserves to be celebrated for his contributions to this country.
101-Year-Old WWII Vet , Willie N. Rogers, Says His Secret to Longevity Is Loving God and… https://t.co/CqH9aa4K4j pic.twitter.com/BNTrgH8MjS
— BCNN1 (@bcnn1) April 18, 2016
Oldest living original Tuskegee Airman dies https://t.co/eNmj5mVXHp pic.twitter.com/j7cANhRxrv
— 13News Now (@13NewsNow) November 20, 2016
ABC7: RT abc7leo: He's the oldest known living Tuskegee Airman. A Black airman who fought for freedom that was onc… pic.twitter.com/v77xSD928r
— Dylan Flores (@SenBAnalyst) May 30, 2016