Theodore Lumpkin Jr., a member of the famed Tuskegee Airmen crew, has passed away just days away from his 101st birthday.
According to the Associated Press, Lumpkin passed away from COVID-19. No further details are available. His death was announced on Saturday (January 9) by his son Theodore Lumpkin III.
Lumpkin reportedly died just days away from his 101st birthday. He was an intelligence officer with the Airmen, the first Black pilots in the segregated U.S. military and among the most respected fighter pilots in World War II.
Lumpkin, according to the AP, was a Los Angeles native and passed away on December 26. He was drafted in 1942 and assigned to the 100th Fighter Squadron in Tuskegee, Alabama. His unit escorted bombers in Europe.
The Los Angeles Times reports that since his eyesight was good enough to serve as a pilot, Lumpkin served as an intelligence officer who briefed pilots on missions.
“We’re carrying on his [legacy], but it’s an end of an era,” his son said.
Lumpkin’s wife, Georgia, told the Times he didn’t talk much about his experiences with the Airmen.
“We were married for a number of years until I heard about them,” she said. “When I realized who these guys were and what they’d done, I was just overcome at how much they persevered. They did not bow down. They achieved things that detractors said they couldn’t, weren’t capable of doing.”
Lumpkin is survived by his wife, two sons, a daughter, several grandchildren and a great-grandchild.