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Willie N. Rogers (1915 - 2016)

Getty Images / Boston Globe

Willie N. Rogers (1915 - 2016)

Willie N. Rogers, the oldest surviving member of the original Tuskegee Airmen who became legendary for their service in World War II, died Nov. 18, 2016, in St. Petersburg, Florida. He was 101.

A longtime resident of St. Petersburg, Rogers died of stroke complications, according to the Tampa Bay Times.

The brave military men known as the Tuskegee Airmen became legendary for their service in World War II. The first African-American aviators in the U.S. armed forces, they fought valiantly for their country at a time when segregation still limited their lives and their rights.

In 1998, President Bill Clinton established the Tuskegee Airmen National Historic Site at Moton Field in Tuskegee, Alabama, to commemorate the airmen’s heroism. All African-American military pilots who trained in the United States did so at Moton Field, the Tuskegee Army Air Field. The aviators were educated at Tuskegee University.

Rogers, who was drafted into the U.S. Army in 1942, was a member of the 100th Fighter Squadron.

He received the Congressional Gold Medal from President George W. Bush in 2007.

St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman shared his condolences on Twitter:

"Rest in peace, our friend - St. Pete's 2015 Honored Veteran and Tuskegee Airman, 101 year-old Willie Rogers."

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