Capt. Lawrence E. Dickson, who is the first out of the 27 Tuskegee Airmen to be identified was finally laid to rest at the Arlington National Cemetery with full military
Serving at a time when the American Army was segregated, the Tuskegee Airmen were the first African-American Aviators in America.
The 332nd Fighter Group and the 99th Pursuit Squadron were the only black groups that fought in World War II and were considered highly successful despite facing discrimination in and out of the army.
Present at Dickson’s funeral, who before his death was awarded a Distinguished Flying Cross for meritorious service were his 76-year-old daughter, Marla L. Andrews and his grandchildren, according to The Washington Post. Andrews, who was handed an honorary folded flag during the ceremony never knew her father, unfortunately.
“I don’t think I would have felt so empty and so alone,” she lamented to The Washington Post.
“I heard many people say that he was very friendly, he was very warm, he was extremely personable. I just had the feeling that if he would have lived, it would have been so different.”
“But he didn’t,” she said.
Dickson, who was 24 at the time of his death crashed his P-51 Mustang fighter plane around the Italy-Austria border on Dec. 23, 1944, while returning to a base in Italy after an aerial reconnaissance mission, according to The Associated Press. After futile attempts to recover his remains, the U.S. military called off all efforts in 1949 declaring them non-recoverable.
However, in 2012, an American recovery team unearthed the crash site after an Austrian researcher
During an excavation in 2017, Dickson’s remains were found. His DNA was subsequently extracted and it positively matched with those of his daughter, a nephew and a distant cousin, the Washington Post reports.
Other valuables found at the crash site that were returned to Andrews included a ring, a part of a harmonica and a small cross.
There are still 26 Tuskegee Airmen whose remains haven’t been discovered after they went missing in action.