On June 22, Alexander Jefferson (1921-2022), one of the last of the Tuskegee Airmen, passed away at the age of 100. A proud son of Detroit, Michigan, Jefferson completed training at Tuskegee Army Air Field in early 1944 and, later that year, joined the 301st Fighter Squadron, of the famed 332nd Fighter Group (the "Red Tails"), Fifteenth Air Force, based at Rasitelli, Italy. He flew 18 missions escorting B-17s and B-24s on bombing missions over France, Germany, and Romania, before his P-51C Mustang went down over Douamont, France, in August 1944, during an attack on radar towers. A German prisoner of war for the remainder of the Second World War, Jefferson was held, first, at Stalag Luft III, in present-day southwestern Poland, and, later, at Stalag VII A in Bavaria. Men of General George S. Patton's US Third Army liberated Jefferson from Stalag VII A in April 1945. After World War II, Jefferson rose to the rank of Lieutenant Colonel in the Reserves, worked for the US Postal Service, and taught science as a public school teacher in Detroit. A longtime advocate for the legacy of the Tuskegee Airmen, Jefferson was inducted into the Michigan Aviation Hall of Fame in 1995 and received, along with other members of the 332nd Fighter Group, the Congressional Gold Meal from President George W. Bush in 2007. The National World War II Museum is honored to have Alexander Jefferson's oral history.
The Detroit Free Press reports that Jefferson will lie in state at the Charles H. Wright Museum on Thursday, July 7.