Wilfred DeFour, 100-Year-Old Tuskegee Airman, Dies

This photo from Sunday, April 15, 2012, shows Tuskeegee Airman Wilfred Defour, left, with Jackie Robinson’s widow Rachel Robinson, right, on Jackie Robinson Day at a New York Yankees’ baseball game in New York. Police say a health aide found DeFour, 100, unconscious and unresponsive inside his Harlem apartment Saturday morning.
Photo: Kathy Willens (File/AP Photo)

One of the first black aviators in the military, who served with the Tuskegee Airmen during World War II, was found dead Saturday in New York. He was 100

According to CNN, DeFour was found unconscious and unresponsive after police responded to a 911 call at in Harlem. There were no obvious signs of trauma, the cause of death is believed to be related to natural causes.


Last month, DeFour attended a ceremony in which a post office was renamed in honor of the Tuskegee Airmen.

“I regret so many of my comrades are no longer here with us,” DeFour said, according to WABC. “It will mean there’s recognition for Tuskegee Airmen and that’s very important.”

The Tuskegee Airmen, who trained at the Tuskegee Army Airfield in Macon County, Alabama, were the first black military aviators in the US service corps.

They were comprised of pilots, navigators, bombardiers, instructors, maintenance and support staff who underwent the “Tuskegee Experience”, in which they were trained to fly and maintain combat aircraft via the Army Air Corps program.


Their legacy has been immortalized in films such as 1995's The Tuskegee Airmen starring Laurence Fishburne and 2012's Red Tails.

During World War II, DeFour was an aircraft technician. However, after the war he worked for the US Postal Service for 33 years.

Share This Story

About the author

Jay Connor

Menace to supremacy. Founder of Extraordinary Ideas and co-host and producer of The Extraordinary Negroes podcast. Impatiently waiting for ya'll to stop putting sugar in grits.