An American hero was laid to rest Friday at Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery
Captain Claude Rowe was a pilot with the Tuskegee Airmen during World War II and might be the only man to fly under two flags.
Fort Rosecrans is hallowed ground, fitting for the final resting place of a man of Capt. Rowe’s heroics.
“Quite a view, panoramic view you got up here,” fellow Tuskegee Airman Master Sergeant Nelson Robinson said. “So, he’s resting in a wonderful, peaceful place.”
Rowe first flew with the Royal Canadian Air Force because his skin color prevented him from being a pilot in the United States military. When the rule changed, he became a pilot with the Unites States Army Air Forces.
The Tuskegee Airmen, made up of the 332nd Fighter Group and 477th Bombardment Group of the USAAF, was a largely African-American aviation group based near Tuskegee, Alabama.
“I always thought that if I didn’t fight for my country, I wouldn’t earn the right to become a first class citizen,” Rowe told NBC 7 in a 2011 interview.
Robinson said that the Tuskegee Airmen, also known as Red Tails, were a fearsome unit.
“They’re one hell of a fighting group (chuckles). One hell of a fighting group,” he said.
But his friend Rowe was soft-spoken.
“He was quiet. A quiet guy. Nice, friendly guy,” Robinson said.
Now that nice guy who embodied the spirit of the Red, White and Blue for 97 years will rest for eternity next to service members who fought in different wars, prayed to different Gods, and had skin of every shade.
“We appreciate the fact that things have changed,” Robinson said.
Rowe’s wife Winnie was at the service and in a touching tribute was given the flag that draped his coffin.
There were around 1,000 Tuskegee Airmen and Robinson says there are now less than 300 still alive.