Fri, Sep 03, 2004
Flew 120 Missions In WWII
Alva Temple, one of the
famed Tuskegee Airmen died in his Columbus (MS) home Saturday. He
was 86. The cause of death was not released.
Temple completed 120 missions during World War II. He served in
Italy, southern France and the Balkans. Like other
African-Americans who were aviation pioneers during the Second
World War, Temple trained at Tuskegee (AL) as part of a program set
up by the Pentagon during the war. The 992 black pilots who
graduated the program were credited with shooting down more than
100 enemy aircraft. Not once did they ever lose to enemy fighters a
bomber under their escort. About 150 lost their lives in training
"I felt I could fly if given a chance," Temple told the
Huntsville (AL) Times earlier this year. "A lot of people thought I
was crazy. They thought I'd be killed, but I didn't pay them any
attention. As long as I could abide by the requirements, I could
take care of it."
Earlier this year, Temple said he hoped the airmen had played a
part in integrating a nation. "All I can say is, things are not as
bad as they used to be. New opportunities have been opened up to
The Tuskegee program was disbanded in 1946, but Temple stayed in
the service, retiring as a lieutenant colonel.
Last March, he told the Jackson (MS) Clarion-Ledger, "People
need to remember us. People need to know that you can make it
through anything and succeed."
Lt. Col. Alva Temple has gone west, transferred to the Lonely
Eagle Memorial Chapter where his name will not be forgotten. Happy
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