John “Jack” Lyle (2019) was one of the legendary Tuskegee Airmen, the country’s first African-American fighter group. The Airmen were among the most skilled pilots during World War II. Lyle, who named his plane “Natalie” in honor of his first wife, was credited with shooting down a German Messerschmitt. After the war, he became a Chicago police officer with the park district and operated a tree trimming company. His favorite hobby was sailing on Lake Michigan.
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Died: Saturday January 5, 2019. (Who else died on January 5?)
Details of death: Died at the age of 98 at his home in Chicago from prostate cancer.
On racism during the war: “The airmen made a contribution to our country.” “And even though there was a lot of racism then, a lot of other people think so, too. Once, I went to a bar in full uniform and some white guys started approaching me. I was watching them. Then, they broke into smiles and started thanking me, saying, ‘You’re one of those people that protected our guys.’ – In a 2012 interview with Jet Magazine
On his love of flying: “We flew 500 feet above the bombers to keep enemy fighters from hitting our guys.” . . . . I loved flying, being up in the clouds, the scenery. I flew 26 combat missions, from southern Italy to Austria and southern Germany, over the Austrian Alps.” – In a 2012 interview with Jet Magazine
What people said about him: “He taught a lot of people how to sail so the wind was always their motor.” “You have to understand the wind to be a pilot, whether it’s in the air or a sailboat.” – Janet Hansen, commodore of the Jackson Park Yacht Club told the Chicago Sun Times
Full obituary: Chicago Sun Times
Birthdate: November 7, 1920 (Who else was born on November 7th?)
World War II Memorial Site – Honoring veterans
Floyd Carter, Sr. – Tuskegee Airman Obituary