Edwards, Jr.Leslie, loving father of Diana Henry (Joseph), Imogene Bowers (Leroy, Jr.) Luqman Abdu Rahman (Khadijah) and Jacqueline Parrott. Notably, he was the oldest living Tuskegee Airman in the Greater Cincinnati area. Passed Monday, September 23, 2019 Age 95 years. Funeral Service on Friday, October 4, 2019 at 11:00 AM at First Unitarian Church, 536 Linton St. visitation from 9:30am until 11am at First Unitarian Church . Wake Thursday, October 3, 2019 from 4:00 PM until 8:00 PM at J.C. Battle & Sons Funeral Home. Burial at Vine Street Hill Cemetery, Cincinnati, Oh.with Full Military Honors. Special online condolences for family and friends may be expressed at http://www.jcbattleandsonsfuneralhome.com BIOGRAPHY _____________________________________________________ A DOCUMENTED ORIGINAL TUSKEGEE AIRMAN Staff Sgt / Flight Chief - Leslie Edwards, Jr. Leslie Edwards, Jr. was born 9 August 1924 in Memphis, TN. He was the youngest of three children. His father worked as a bellhop and his mother looked after the children. The family moved from Memphis to Cincinnati, OH in 1925. Before dropping out of high school in 1938, he attended Harriet Beecher Stowe School in Cincinnati. He worked at several jobs before settling at Khan's Packinghouse in 1941. He married Anne Mae Green in 1943. He was drafted into the Army Air Corp in 1943. His basic training was at Shepperd Field, TX. After basic, Leslie was trained as an aircraft engine mechanic for medium bombers. Following training, he was assigned to Selfridge Field outside Detroit, MI. There he worked on bombers belonging to the 477th Bombardment Group Medium. There were four (4) Tuskegee Airmen Bomber Squadrons during World War II (WWII). They were the 616th, 617th, 618th and 619th organized under the 477th Bomb Group. They were slated for combat in the Pacific Theater; but, WWII ended prior to their deployment. In 1944, Leslie Edwards, Jr. was reassigned to Godman Field, outside Louisville, KY. There, he was promoted to Flight Chief of Flight A of the 617th Bomb Squadron responsible for maintaining the five (5) B-25 Bombers assigned to the Squadron. In 1945, he was reassigned to Freeman Field in Seymour, IN. Also, in 1945, the 477th was ordered back to Godman Field. The returning Tuskegee Airmen Fighter Squadrons and Group were combined with the bomber squadrons and group to become the 477th Composite Group. Its headquarters was now located at Godman Field, KY. SSgt Leslie Edwards, Jr. was discharged in 1945. The 477th Composite Group never deployed overseas for combat duties partly, because it was activated late in the war; partly, because a bombardment group took longer to train than a fighter group; and partly, because it was transferred from base to base because of racial trouble. While the bombers units did not participate in combat overseas, members of the unit were part of an event known as, the \"Freeman Field Mutiny.\" When in April of 1945, black officers attempted to enter a segregated officers' club. A total of 120 black officers of the 477th Bombardment Group were arrested at one time or another during the \"Freeman Field Mutiny.\" Segregated facilities were contrary to existing Army Air Corp Regulations. It has been said, that this act of civil disobedience was instrumental in President Truman issuing Executive Order 9981 in July of 1948, which directed the desegregation of the United States (U. S.) Military. Leslie Edwards, Jr. received the \"Citizen Awareness of Law\" Award and the \"Better Housing League\" Award. On 29 March 2007, he attended a ceremony in the U .S. Capitol Rotunda; where, he and the other Tuskegee Airmen collectively (not individually) were awarded the Congressional Gold Medal in recognition of their service during WWII. After WWII, both Leslie and his wife-Anna Mae completed high school. In 1961, he received a Bachelor's Degree in Commerce from Solomon P. Chase College in Cincinnati, OH. Leslie was initially denied the opportunity to return to his previous position at Khan's Packinghouse. However, the union supported him and his position was restored. In 1964, he advanced to become a Federal Meat Inspector in Cincinnati, OH. Leslie served as the Supervisor of Meat Inspectors for the Southwest Area of OH from 1970 to 1986. During the years 1987 to 1997, he was a Register Sanitarian for the State of Oho, responsible for assuring that meat packing facilities were following state codes. Leslie and his wife had four (4) children and nineteen (19) grandchildren. Following his retirement in 1997, he became the full-time caregiver for his wife. Sadly, she passed away in November of 2016. They were married for 72 'blissful' years.
Published in Tributes.com on Sep. 23, 2019.