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Robert T. McDaniel (1923 - 2019), member of the Tuskegee Airmen

U.S. Air Force / Senior Airman Martha Whipple

Elite black pilots received the Congressional Gold Medal

Robert T. McDaniel was a member of the Tuskegee Airmen, the elite African-American pilots who flew during World War II. He was drafted into the U.S. Army in 1943 and trained as a pilot and bombardier at the Tuskegee Institute, going on to serve as a flight officer with the 477th bombardier group. After the war, McDaniel became a math teacher, later serving as a school counselor, vice principal, and principal. He was one of a handful of Tuskegee Airmen still surviving in 2019, out of the hundreds who served in World War II.

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Died: March 19, 2019 (Who else died on March 19?)

Details of death: Died at the age of 96.

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The Tuskegee Airmen: In 2007, President George W. Bush presented the Tuskegee Airmen with the Congressional Gold Medal, one of the nation's highest honors. The award came in sharp contrast to the treatment the Tuskegee Airmen received while they served their country, at a time when Jim Crow laws were still active in many states and African-Americans in the military were subject to segregation and racial discrimination. McDaniel was among the officers involved in an incident that led to the integration of all officers' clubs, a big step toward the full integration of the military that came by executive order of President Harry S. Truman in 1948.

McDaniel on the U.S. Army prior to the Tuskegee Airmen: “There were no blacks at all in the Air Corps. None. Didn't want them there. They said, 'They don't have the dexterity to work these planes.'”

What people said about McDaniel and the Tuskegee Airmen: “My career in public service was made possible by the path heroes like the Tuskegee Airmen trail-blazed.” —President Barack Obama, who invited the surviving Tuskegee Airmen to his 2009 inauguration

“They weren't seeking pride. It was just a thing they knew they had to do.” —Sarah Walker, president of Tarrant County Black Historical and Genealogical Society

Funeral details: A wake is scheduled for Wednesday, March 27, 6-8 p.m., at St. Peter Presbyterian Church, Fort Worth, Texas. Funeral will be on Thursday, March 28, 11 am, at Shiloh Missionary Baptist Church, Fort Worth. Burial will take place at Dallas-Fort-Worth National Cemetery.

Full obituary: Fort Worth Star-Telegram

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