Detroit man who was Tuskegee Airman dies at 100

Tuskegee Airman Lt. Col Alexander Jefferson attends a groundbreaking for the Michigan state World War II memorial, Thursday, April 7, 2022, in Royal Oak, Mich. The memorial will eventually includes the laying of more than 1,200 donated Walk of Honor paver bricks, a Wall of Stars honoring the 15,000-plus Michigan lives lost during World War II and additional statues, including one dedicated to Rosie the Riveter. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio) (Carlos Osorio, Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

DETROIT – Alexander Jefferson, a member of the celebrated Tuskegee Airmen during World War II, has died at age 100, officials said Friday.

Jefferson was born in Detroit and remained a lifelong resident. The city announced last fall that it plans to honor him with the Lt. Col. Alexander Jefferson Plaza at Rouge Park where he flew model airplanes as a child.

“Col. Jefferson not only represented the best of Detroit and our nation, he represented the very best of humanity,” Mayor Mike Duggan said.

In recent years, the Tuskegee Airmen have been the subject of books, movies and documentaries highlighting their courage in the air and the doubts they faced on the ground because of their race.

Jefferson, who was Black, flew 18 missions before he was shot down and held as a prisoner of war for eight months in 1944-45.

He returned to Detroit and was a teacher and school principal for decades.