EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

Latest News

February 12, 2013

Tuskegee Airman Luther McIlwain dies

METHUEN - Luther McIlwain of Methuen, who made history as a member of the all-black Tuskegee Airmen in World War II, has died at the age of 91.

He died Friday. Friends and relatives are invited to attend a wake from 4-7 p.m. tomorrow (Wednesday) at the Dewhirst Funeral Home, 80 Broadway in Methuen. A funeral service will immediately follow.

McIlwain was a Second Lieutenant with the 477th B-25 Bomber group. The squadron fought in North Africa and Europe.

McIlwain was also an instructor who trained many of the nearly 1,000 black aviators in the unit.

Born in Blaine, S.C., his family moved to Lawrence when he was 2. He graduated from Methuen High in 1939 and attended Allen University in Columbia, S.C. When he tried to join the military, recruiters ridiculed him for wanting to be a pilot, but eventually enlisted in the Army Air Corps in 1943.

"They told me I couldn't fly a plane because I was black and I was stupid. I had to prove to them that I could," he later said in an interview with The Eagle-Tribune.

IN 2007, McIlwain and 200 fellow Tuskegee Airmen were awarded the Congressional Gold Medal by President George Bush.

After the war, McIlwain was a police officer in New York City from until 1968. McIlwain returned to Methuen after retiring from the police department.

For more o

1
Text Only | Photo Reprints
Latest News

AP Video
Kerry: Humanitarian Cease-fire Efforts Continue Raw: Corruption Trial Begins for Former Va Gov. The Carbon Trap: US Exports Global Warming UN Security Council Calls for Gaza Cease-fire Traditional African Dishes Teach Healthy Eating 13 Struck by Lightning on Calif. Beach Baseball Hall of Famers Inducted Israel, Hamas Trade Fire Despite Truce in Gaza Italy's Nibali Set to Win First Tour De France Raw: Shipwrecked Concordia Completes Last Voyage Raw: Sea Turtle Hatchlings Emerge From Nest Raw: Massive Dust Storm Covers Phoenix 12-hour Cease-fire in Gaza Fighting Begins Raw: Bolivian Dancers Attempt to Break Record Raw: Israel, Palestine Supporters Rally in US Raw: Air Algerie Flight 5017 Wreckage Virginia Governor Tours Tornado Aftermath Judge Faces Heat Over Offer to Help Migrant Kids Kangaroo Goes Missing in Oklahoma More M17 Bodies Return, Sanctions on Russia Grow
Photos of the Week