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Floyd Carter Sr., one of the remaining Tuskegee Airmen, dies at 95

By THOMAS TRACY AND LARRY MCSHANE | New York Daily News (Tribune News Service) | Published: March 11, 2018

Floyd Carter Sr., one of the last of the Tuskegee Airmen, dedicated his remarkable life to serving his country and his city.

The decorated veteran of three wars and 27 years with the NYPD died Thursday at age 95, leaving a long legacy as a groundbreaking hero pilot and a city police detective.

Carter, who simultaneously rose through the ranks of the U.S. Air Force Reserves and the police, was honored in 2007 with the Congressional Gold Medal by President Bush for breaking the color barrier in Tuskegee.

"We mourn the loss of a true American hero," read a tweet from the 47th Precinct in his adopted home of the Bronx. "Our community & nation has lost a giant."

Carter rose to the rank of Air Force lieutenant colonel years after joining the group of African-American pilots at Tuskegee University.

He met his wife Atherine there, where the Alabama native was working as part of an all-female repair crew.

Carter wooed his bride-to-be on several dates in his plane, and they were married at the air base in 1945.

In 2012, Carter joined "Star Wars" filmmaker George Lucas for a screening of his film "Red Tails" about the Tuskegee Airmen -- the first black aviators in the U.S. military, trained in Alabama as a segregated unit.

In addition to serving during World War II, Carter flew during the Korean and Vietnam wars and led the first squadron of supply-laden planes into Berlin during the famed Cold War airlift of 1948-49.

During the Tet Offensive, Carter flew U.S. troops and supplies into South Vietnam.

His NYPD duties included work as a bodyguard for visiting heads of state, and Carter spent time with Cuban leader Fidel Castro and Soviet head Nikita Khrushchev, recalled his son Floyd Jr.

He earned a half-dozen citations for his outstanding police work, and survived a number of shootouts with armed bandits.

"He's got a little history," said Floyd Jr. "We were blessed, we sure were. He went from what I call the outhouse to the fine house. The Lord blessed him."

The Yorktown, Va., native joined the Army Air Corps in 1944, and was commissioned a year later as a 2nd lt. bombardier navigator.

In 1946, he received his pilot wings and transferred a year later to the Air Force Reserves. By the end of his tenure in 1974, he was commander of the 732nd Military Airlift Squadron at McGuire Air Force Base in New Jersey.

Carter joined the NYPD in 1953, earned his detective's gold shield within three years, and retired in 1980.

He once recalled talking politics with Castro, and believed the federal government needed to open a dialogue with the bearded Communist.

Oddly enough, Carter was called up for active duty during the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis.

Carter remained active into his 90s, serving in November 2015 as the grand marshal of the annual Veterans Day Parade in the Bronx. He was honored by ex-Congressman Charles Rangel in 2005 with a proclamation for his lifelong achievements.

Carter was survived by his wife of more than seven decades and their two children, Floyd Jr. and Rozalind, along with grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Funeral arrangements were not yet finalized.

(c) 2018 New York Daily News. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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