N.C. Tuskegee Airman Harvey Alexander dead at 92
News & Record, Greensboro, N.C.
GREENSBORO — Harvey Alexander learned to fly a B-25 bomber and while at 12,000 feet, with the hardships of being a black man in 1940s America far below him, found freedom as a Tuskegee Airman during World War II.
By the time Alexander — who died recently at 92 — was slated to go to the South Pacific to fight the enemy, the war had ended.
But that’s when another life began.
It was a life where Alexander would get a degree in accounting, raise two daughters and eventually come to Greensboro, where he worked at N.C. A&T, built his own house and donated his uniform to the International Civil Rights Center & Museum for its opening.
His passing is a reminder that the Tuskegee Airmen, the first U.S. African American military aviators, are a dying breed.
Exactly how many are still alive is unknown, although some estimates place the number around 300.
Alexander was born April 13, 1921, in Georgetown, Ill., the son of a coal miner.
The family was so poor that Alexander, the second of nine children, walked to school barefoot.
His family couldn’t afford shoes.
But by 1944, as an Army lieutenant, it wasn’t shoes that mattered — but wings.
“My first true feeling of freedom came flying that airplane,’’ Alexander told the News & Record in a 2001 interview. “All that power seemed to be just surging through me. There wasn’t any discrimination up there.’’