Legendary Tuskegee Airmen Lee A. Archer Jr died Wednesday , January 27th at New York Hospital, New York, NY of coronary complications. He was 90.
Lee Archer, Jr. gave selflessly of his time and resources to promote the legacy Tuskegee Airmen. Along with just a handful of other Airmen, he became the face of the Tuskegee Airmen. Lee used the acclaim he achieved as a fighter pilot in WWII to reach out to our youth and military members. As a member of the 332nd Fighter Group, Lee Archer shot down four enemy aircraft during the war, achieving three kills in one day. On October 12, 1944, he shot down three German BF-109 aircraft. Lee rarely used the spotlight to talk about himself, but instead he used it to inspire future generations. In 2005, Lee Archer, along with five other Tuskegee Airme, was asked by the Department of Defense to travel to Balad, Iraq to boost the moral of the airmen serving our nations in the 332nd Air Expeditionary Wing. Because of the proud legacy of the Tuskegee Airmen and visits by original the Tuskegee Airmen led by the efforts of Lee Archer, every airmen serving in the war in Iraq in the 332nd is now and forever proud to call himself or herself a Tuskegee Airman. A few months after his visit to Iraq in 2005, Lee Archer was in Germany speaking at several military bases and hospitals. This is especially impressive if remember that this travel schedule was accomplished by men in their eighties!
Through many years of sustained community service, Lee also touched the lives of many inner-city children . For example, in 2005, he took part in a Southwest Airlines-sponsored program to expose the Dallas and Fort Worth city youth to the Tuskegee Airmen legacy. That program had a tremendous impact on the youth of Texas. The program culminated in an essay contest about the Tuskegee Airmen based on what the youth had read and their exposure to the Airmen through school vists during the week. It was a very proud moment for all in attendance to hear the reading of the top essays. The day was especially meaninfgul for Southwest Airlines Chairman Emeritus Herb Kelleher and the two Southwest Mechanics who organized the event--Dale Dixon and Gordon Gillory.
I had the opportunity to work with Lee Archer and Colonel Charles McGee at another Southwest Airlines supported event in January 2009 at the Tomorrow's Aeronautical Museum (TAM) in Compton, CA. At that time, each of these great gentlemen had an airplane named in their honor--for they had done so much to support and inspire the TAM kids.
Lee A. Archer Jr. will be missed deeply, but the legacy he leaves behind and the legacy and work of the Tuskegee Airmen will continue. God Bless him and keep him.