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Granville Coggs, a Tuskegee Airman and Renaissance man, dies at 93

Granville Coggs poses in front of an AT-6 at Tuskegee Army Air Field, Ala.

U.S. AIR FORCE

By STARS AND STRIPES Published: May 11, 2019

Granville Coggs, who was one of the nation’s first black military pilots during World War II, has died at the age of 93.

He died Monday in San Antonio after a bout of pneumonia, family members told local news station KENS5.

Coggs served in the U.S. Army Air Corps and was a member of the Tuskegee Airmen from 1943 to 1946. He then went on to become a doctor, invented a non-invasive patented device for breast cancer detection, played and sang with a variety of musical groups, and was a gold medalist in the Senior Olympics, according to his obituary.

Coggs met his wife, Maud, during his military training when she was a Tuskegee Institute student, and the two were married for 73 years. He retired from the Air Force Reserve in 1985 as a lieutenant colonel.

His military service was a point of pride for him, his daughter Anita Rowell told News4 San Antonio. As a Tuskegee airman in the segregated Army Air Corps, he earned military badges for aerial gunner, aerial bombardier and multiengine pilot.

"He enjoyed wearing his Tuskegee Airman cap out in public, and he enjoyed that because he was just waiting on someone to recognize the cap and say 'Are you a Tuskegee Airman?' and he would say, 'Yes I am,'" his daughter Anita told News4 San Antonio.

Coggs recounted his first solo flight in Tuskegee, Ala., for Nebraska Magazine in 2012.

"For black people all over the South back then, such an accomplishment seemed almost unthinkable,” he said. “But there I was, headed toward the clouds and feeling very proud of myself because I knew I was proving what so many black people had been saying for so many years in this country: 'If you'll just give us a chance, we can meet every challenge that comes our way — and we will succeed.'"

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Dr. Granville Coggs, a Tuskegee Airman, recites a poem written by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. on Jan. 16, 2014, at Joint Base San Antonio-Randolph, Texas. Coggs died on Monday, May 6, 2019.
JOEL MARTINEZ/U.S. AIR FORCE

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