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John L. Harrison Jr.

Eugene Richardson at the funeral of John L. Harrison Jr. (AP Photo)

John L. Harrison Jr.

John L. Harrison Jr., one of the members of the famed all-African-American Tuskegee Airmen, died March 22, 2017, in a Philadelphia hospice. He was 96.

The death was announced by the Murphy Ruffenach Funeral Home. His funeral was held Friday with full military honors.

Harrison became one of the members of the 332nd Fighter Group and the 477th Bombardment Group of the U.S. Army Air Forces.

He was 22 when he became one of the famed all-black pilots. They trained at Moton Field and were educated at Tuskegee University near Tuskegee, Alabama.

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In March 2007, then-President George W. Bush, on behalf of the U.S. Congress, awarded the Congressional Gold Medal to the Tuskegee Airmen.

"I thank you for the honor you have brought to our country, and the medal you are about to receive means that our country honors you," Bush said to the roughly 300-member audience of surviving airmen, Tuskegee Airmen widows, and other relatives, prior to presenting the congressional award.

He flew combat fighters in Italy during World War II and went on to jet fights, multi-engine propeller planes and seaplanes in a military career that lasted 20 years.

Following his retirement from the Air Force he worked as an administrator for the Peace Corps in East Africa, in the administration of President Richard Nixon and Pennsylvania Gov. Dick Thornburgh. He was also director of affirmative action for Boeing Aircraft Company.

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