Tuskegee Airman laid to rest at Arlington National Cemetery - DC News FOX 5 DC WTTG

Tuskegee Airman laid to rest at Arlington National Cemetery

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Staff Sgt. Lafayette Brown Staff Sgt. Lafayette Brown

The Tuskegee Airmen are one of the most famous flying units in U.S. history. On Thursday, they said a final farewell to one of their own.

Growing up, Sharon Brown said her dad didn’t talk about it much.

"I didn't really realize the importance of the Tuskegee Airmen when I was little," she said.

When America needed pilots in World War II, it turned to men like Staff Sgt. Lafayette Brown, even though 1940s segregation meant he already had to fight for everything he had just because he wasn’t white.

Tuskegee airman William Fauntroy says Brown not only had to prove he could fly, but prove wrong those who thought a black man couldn't be a fighter pilot.

"They shot down German planes with proficiency, better than any other units in the Army Air Corps,” said Fauntroy.

He flew with the 99th/332nd Tuskegee Squadron. He lost engines and survived. He got malaria and survived. And in a military that treated him as something less because of his skin color, he flew his missions and survived.

In 2007, he was there as President George W. Bush presented the Congressional Medal of Honor.

"When America entered World War II, it might have been easy for them to do little for our country, after all the country didn’t do much for them,” said President Bush at the ceremony.

Now, Lafayette Brown's legacy has come full circle at the River of Life Church in Temple Hills, Md.

"When the present can touch history, it can propel us to the future," said Rev. Charles Whitaker.

At the church, the Tuskegee Airmen that Brown served alongside sat with generations of Brown’s family.

After 91 years of service to both his country and his family, it is perfectly fitting that Brown's final mission ends in America’s hallowed ground at Arlington National Cemetery.

An honor guard, a flag-draped casket, a firing party, and honors were bestowed on a family who couldn't be prouder of Lafayette Brown if they tried.

"Today, they're so recognized, it's awesome and you start to see and realize all that they did go through," said Brown’s daughter, Sharon.

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