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Malcolm Nettingham (1918–2020), one of the last Tuskegee Airmen

by Linnea Crowther

Malcolm Nettingham was one of the last surviving Tuskegee Airmen, the group of elite Black pilots and airmen who fought in World War II.

Integrating the U.S. military

Nettingham was drafted into the U.S. Army Air Corps in 1944, while the U.S. was deeply embroiled in World War II. He became part of a five-man crew of Black soldiers chosen for the first integrated flight radio communications class. Having excelled in a Morse Code aptitude test, Nettingham served as a radio operator and gunner in the 617th Squadron, 477th Composite Group. Nettingham was among the 300 Tuskegee Airmen who were honored in 2007 with the Congressional Gold Medal, and he attended both of President Barack Obama’s inaugurations at the president’s invitation. After his military service, Nettingham worked for an industrial electronics company for 32 years before his retirement.

Notable quote

“They’re going to think all black people are dumb, so we decided we’re going to be smart. When we came out of class, the first thing we did was get into the books and make sure that all five of us knew the lessons backwards and forwards.” —Nettingham in a 2018 interview for NJ Advance Media

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Tributes to Malcolm Nettingham

Full obituary: NJ.com

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