One of the famed Tuskegee Airmen – the first black pilots in the segregated U.S. military and among the most respected fighter pilots of World War II – has died from complications of the coronavirus, it was announced Friday.
Lumpkin, a native of Los Angeles, died of COVID-19 at home on December 26, just a few days shy of his 101st birthday.
His death was announced by his son, Ted Lumpkin III, who told the LA Times: ‘We’re carrying on his [legacy], but it’s the end of an era.’
Los Angeles City College, which Lumpkin attended from 1938 to 1940, also issued a statement memorializing his death.
‘The LACC Foundation is very sorry to hear about the passing of Ted Lumpkin, but we are so honored to have met and spent time with Ted during his visits to the campus,’ said Robert Schwartz, Executive Director, Los Angeles City College Foundation.
‘Ted Lumpkin represents the best of our distinguished alumni in his service to our country as a member of the groundbreaking Tuskegee Airmen and his other accomplishments during a long and highly productive life; he will be missed by all of us.’
Lumpkin was drafted in 1942 and assigned to the 100th Fighter Squadron in Tuskegee, Alabama. The Tuskegee Airmen escorted bombers in Europe.
Lumpkin wasn’t a pilot because his eyesight wasn’t good enough, but he served as an intelligence officer who briefed pilots on missions, according to the Times.
During his tenure in the military, he earned a bachelor’s degree and master’s degree in sociology from USC. He met his wife Georgia while he was a student and the pair were married soon after.
He later retired from the Air Force Reserves as a lieutenant colonel, and started a new era of his life working as a social worker for Los Angeles County.
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SOURCE: Daily Mail, Luke Kenton