Oldest surviving Tuskegee Airman honored with Congressional Gold Medal

by: Diana Davis Updated:

Graham was part of the Tuskegee Airmen who proved they could do what most Americans assumed they couldn't.
RIVERDALE, Ga. —

The oldest surviving member of the Tuskegee Airmen received the Congressional Gold Medal Thursday for his service in World War II.

Brewer "Brew" Graham has lived quietly in Clayton County.

He somehow fell through the cracks when other airmen were honored by President George W. Bush in a White House ceremony five years ago.

With World War II raging, the Tuskegee Airmen proved they could do what most Americans assumed they couldn't.

They battled the Nazis on the war front and fought racial discrimination and bigotry at home.

Now 97-years-old, Graham finally received a Congressional Gold Medal from Rep. David Scott Thursday.

Born in Mississippi, Graham was a mechanic. His friends told Channel 2's Diana Davis he learned to fly when the white pilots of planes he maintained didn't trust his work.

He flew test flights to show them planes were air worthy.

Graham didn't say much but thank you to Scott. He said he wishes more of his buddies from the war years were still alive.

As he presented graham the medal, Scott said he first heard about the airmen when he was in a segregated junior high school.

"Here you got people who didn't want you to go, who looked at you as second-class citizens, said you didn't have the guts or the nerve to this, to go fight, and they scratching, they're eager, they're fighting," Graham said.

Nearly 1,000 black fighter pilots trained as a segregated unit at a Tuskegee, Ala., airbase.

The military fought the program, but President Franklin Roosevelt overruled his top generals and ordered that the program be created.