We’ve all heard of the renowned Tuskegee Airmen, right? They were the Black men who bravely fought in World War II as part of the 332nd Fighter Group and the 377th Bombardment Group in the U.S. Air Force. They were the first African-American police in the military. That’s a big deal.
Their tales have been chronicled in popular culture and literature. But have you heard of Lt. Fred L. Brewer Jr.? He was a member of the Tuskegee Airmen who tragically disappeared during an October 1944 mission to escort bombers attacking Germany, according to the Washington Post.
For the last 79 years, descendants of Brewer have been unable to find his remains and get the answers they’ve sorely wanted for decades on what happened to this war veteran.
But in August, the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA) discovered previously unidentified remains as belonging to Brewers, bringing closure to a family that had been searching for it for years.
More from the DPAA:
The Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA) announced today that U.S. Army Air Forces 2nd Lt. Fred L. Brewer Jr., 23, of Charlotte, North Carolina, killed during World War II, was accounted for Aug. 10, 2023.
In late 1944, Brewer was a pilot with the 100th Fighter Squadron, 332nd Fighter Group, also known as the Tuskegee Airmen, in the European Theater. On Oct. 19, Brewer departed Ramitelli Air Base, Italy, as one of 57 fighters assigned to escort bombers to their targets in Regensburg, Germany. While enroute to their targets, the bomber group encountered heavy cloud cover over the Udine area of Italy, which forced several escort fighters to return early. According to another pilot witness, Brewer had attempted a steep climb to get above the cloud cover, which caused the engine of his P-51C Mustang, Traveling Light, to stall. It was reported Brewer’s aircraft had rolled over with the canopy jettisoned, but he was not observed ejecting from the plane. Brewer’s remains were not recovered, and he was subsequently declared missing in action.
Through “anthropological analysis” and circumstantial evidence, DPAA scientists were able to conclude that the discovered remains belonged to Brewer.
Robena Brewer Harrison, a cousin of Lt. Brewer told the Washington Post that she would like to see the remains of her family member buried in Charlotte.
While it’s incredible that Brewer’s remains were found, he’s only the second missing Tuskegee Airmen to have his remains discovered. The DPAA says 25 airmen are still missing.