DETROIT – Tuskegee Airman, Lt. Col. Harry Stewart, lost a comrade during the pandemic. Not to COVID-19, but to old age.
Stewart made sure the first Veterans Day without his fellow airman wouldn’t be impeded by the coronavirus. He connected with his friend’s family around the world, commemorating a hero’s contributions to the country.
First Lt. Vincent Dean and Stewart were 18 years old when they enlisted in 1943 during World War II.
“I look back on it now and we were kids at that time,” Stewart
They both joined the Air Force and served in Italy together. In July, Dean died in Sweden at the age of 95. Stewart attended the virtual funeral. While he could not be with anyone on Veterans Day, Stewart spoke with Dean’s family in the United States and overseas.
“Every time we get in contact, they have further questions they would like to ask about their father, and it was a joy for me to be able to narrate this to them,” he said.
The pandemic changed how Veterans Day was commemorated. From a drive-by display in Taylor to a Detroit Veterans Day parade that was live streamed.
“This is the first time in quite a few years I was here home alone,” Stewart said.
Stewart said he enjoyed spending the day raking leaves and taking breaks, talking to loved ones thankful for his years of service.
“A gentleman got on the phone -- he calls me every year -- said he’s sorry that he couldn’t say this in person but I understand,” he said.