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Education McDaniel, Fort Worth Tuskegee Airman, educator, dies at 96

McDaniel, Fort Worth Tuskegee Airman, educator, dies at 96

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Robert T. McDaniel was Fort Worth’s last surviving member of the Tuskegee Airmen. The elite black pilot group flew combat aircraft and protected U.S. bomber crews with outstanding success in World War II.

McDaniel died on Tuesday at age 96.

McDaniel was valedictorian and president of I.M. Terrell High School’s class of 1940. He was drafted three years later and sent to Tuskegee, Alabama, for pilot training. In all, 922 black pilots trained there during the war, a time when the military was segregated.

McDaniel learned to fly the B-25 bomber and rose to the rank of 2nd Lieutenant. While continuing training at Indiana’s Freeman Field, he was turned away from the officers’ club. He and other black officers defied a direct order and repeatedly tried to enter the club. They were arrested and threatened with court martial, which could have carried the death penalty during wartime. The men eventually were exonerated, and the Freeman Field incident helped lead to the integration of the military.

After the war, McDaniel became a teacher and principal in Fort Worth ISD. The District inducted him to the Wall of Fame in 2009, along with another Terrell alumni and Tuskegee Airman, Capt. Claude Platte, who served as a flight instructor during the war. Platte, who served in the Air Force until 1965, died in 2013.

The Tuskegee Airmen received the Congressional Gold Medal in 2007. Barack Obama invited both men and the other surviving Tuskegee Airmen to his 2009 inauguration. The 2012 George Lucas movie “Red Tails” tells the story of the extraordinary group.

A wake for Robert McDaniel will be held March 27 at Saint Peter Presbyterian in Fort Worth from 6 to 8 p.m. Funeral services will be on March 28 at 11 a.m. at Shiloh Missionary Baptist Church in Fort Worth.

The Tuskegee Airmen received the Congressional Gold Medal in 2007. Barack Obama invited both men and the other surviving Tuskegee Airmen to his 2009 inauguration. The 2012 George Lucas movie “Red Tails” tells the story of the extraordinary group.

A wake for Robert McDaniel will be held March 27 at Saint Peter Presbyterian in Fort Worth from 6 to 8 p.m. Funeral services will be on March 28 at 11 a.m. at Shiloh Missionary Baptist Church in Fort Worth. – information from Fort Worth ISD

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