NY Veterans Hall Of Fame Member Flew 95 WWII Missions
Another of the Tuskegee Airmen has gone west. Captain Clarence
Dart, who flew 95 missions with the Red Tail Squadron and was shot
down twice flying Curtiss P-40s during WWII, passed away Friday at
Wesley Health Care Center in Saratoga Springs, NY. Dart, 91, never
regained consciousness following a stroke on February 4, according
to the Albany Times Union.
In January, Dart, while frail, was able to attend a screening of
Red Tails, the George Lucas film dramatizing the story of
the first black US military aviators (screenshot of movie trailer
above). The paper reports movie-goers gave Dart, who watched the
film from his wheelchair, a standing ovation at the Wilton Mall's
Regal Cinema. With him was his wife of 61 years, Millie.
Dart grew up in the hardship of the Great Depression of the
1930s, but recalled building model airplanes as a boy. He had just
turned 21, and was singing with his church choir at a radio station
on December 7, 1941, when an announced interrupted the broadcast to
inform the public that Pearl Harbor had been bombed by Japanese
forces. He was drafted, and served with a field artillery unit at
Fort Sill, OK before joining the Army Air Force pilot school.
After the war ended, he had a 39-year career as a draftsman with
GE, and continued his service as a reservist with the New York Air
National Guard, retiring as a Lieutenant Colonel.
As is the case with many WWII vets, Dart reportedly didn't speak
much about his experiences during the war. But one of his seven
daughters, Dawn Ray, recalls, "He taught us that you don't let
anyone tell you that you can't do something. He put us all through
college because education was paramount to him."
Services for Clarence Dart were held Tuesday at Saratoga Springs
United Methodist Church. He was interred in a family plot at
Greenridge Cemetery. Fewer than 100 members of the Tuskegee Airmen