Tuskegee Airman Leo Gray Dies At 92
“We were just doing what we were supposed to do,” Gray had told the Montgomery Advertiser. “We were trying to become pilots in the United States Air Force with no thought at all of the historical significance that was taking place.” At that time, African-Americans were deemed unfit both physically and mentally to fly something as complex as an aircraft. Gray and others who volunteered to fly in the 1940s, proved the myth wrong. In fact, the Tuskegee Airmen, were recognized for an excellent flying record. “They said we couldn’t fly, but we thought we could,” Gray said. “Everyone else could fly. Everyone’s blood turns red.” Gray was a single-engine pilot for with the 100th Fighter Squadron, 332nd Fighter Group. After his graduation from the Tuskegee Army Air Field, he was sent to Ramitelli, Italy, as a combat fighter in the P-51 Mustang. He completed 15 combat missions over German-occupied territory escorting B-24 and B-17 bombers. After logging 750 flying hours, he left the service in 1946 and served in the Air Force Reserves until 1984 and served a total of 41 years. Those years in the service were the most memorable of his life, Gray said. He appreciates the camaraderie he still has with fellow veterans who bonded during service. A Boston native, Gray had enlisted after high school and used his story of “overcoming adversity,” to encourage audiences around the nation.