Wilfred DeFour, one of the few living members of the Tuskegee Airmen was found dead Saturday at home in Harlem at the age of 100.
According to CNN, the New York Police Department responded to a 911 call and found DeFour unconscious and unresponsive. DeFour was pronounced dead by Emergency Medical Service workers. There were no obvious signs of trauma, police said, and the medical examiner will determine the cause of death.
The Tuskegee Airmen were the first Black military aviators in the US service corps and predated the formation of the United States Air Force. They trained at the Tuskegee Army Airfield in Alabama.
The group was generally said to include pilots, navigators, bombardiers, maintenance and support staff who went through a US Army Air Corps training program to bring African-Americans into the war effort, according to Tuskegee Airmen Inc., a group devoted to the history of the airmen.
The organization said that there’s no clear answer on exactly how many living airmen remain. DeFour worked an aircraft technician during World War II and worked for the US Postal Service for 33 years after retiring from military service.
He lamented the loss of so many of his fellow Airmen during a ceremony last month for the renaming of a Harlem Post Office in honor of the Tuskegee Airmen.
“I regret so many of my comrades are no longer here with us,” DeFour said to WABC. “It will mean there’s recognition for Tuskegee Airmen and that’s very important.”
DeFour served alongside a number of future leaders including Air Force four-star generals Benjamin O. Davis Jr. and Daniel “Chappie” James, Maj. Gen. Lucius Theus, former Detroit Mayor Coleman Young, New York Borough President Percy Sutton, and sociologist Dr. Dempsey W. Morgan.
— CNN Breaking News (@cnnbrk) December 8, 2018