Tuskegee Airman Theodore Lumpkin Jr. dies of COVID complications

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Tuskegee Airman Theodore Lumpkin Jr. — one of the first Black pilots in the US military — has died from complications of COVID-19. He was 100 years old. 

Lumpkin Jr. died Dec. 26, just a few days before his 101st birthday, his alma mater, Los Angeles City College, announced in a statement Friday. He is survived by his wife, Georgia, his two sons and a daughter. 

The Los Angeles native was drafted in 1942 to the 100th Fighter Squadron in Tuskegee, Alabama. He spent his military career as an intelligence officer who briefed World War II pilots in Europe, the newspaper reported. 

He was incredibly reserved about his time in the military, his wife said. 

“We were married for a number of years until I heard about them,” she said. “When I realized who these guys were and what they’d done, I was just overcome at how much they persevered. They did not bow down. They achieved things that detractors said they couldn’t, weren’t capable of doing.”

Lumpkin Jr. graduated from the University of Southern California with a degree in sociology following the war. He retired as a social worker with Los Angeles County before a second career in real estate.

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