Tuskegee Airman Lt. Col. Floyd J. Carter Sr. died on Sunday at 95 years old, officials said.
Carter Sr. was among a small group of living Tuskegee Airmen – African-American pilots who flew for the U.S. Army Air Forces during World War II. He was a New York City Police Department (NYPD) detective for 27 years after serving in World War II, the Korean War and the Vietnam War amid racism stemming from a segregated environment with Jim Crow laws that spilled into his service.
“We mourn the loss of a true American Hero,” the New York precinct tweeted on Sunday. “Our Community & Nation has lost a giant.”
Carter Sr. recounted, to Flying magazine, that the discrimination he and his fellow cadets faced during their training at the Tuskegee Army Air Field in Alabama was palpable. In the 2009 interview, he told the magazine he once “buzzed” the Alabama Capitol building during a speech given by an “extremely racist” governor.
“So I took that B-25 to Montgomery ... it was only about 30 miles away,” Carter said. “It was night, so I knew nobody would see my numbers. And I took that B-25 down low, and I turned up the power, and then I turned up the props.”
He further explained that “when you turn up the props on a B-25, it really makes some noise! And then I flew right over the top of that building, just to disturb his speech.”
During his tenure at the NYPD, Carter Sr. also had the opportunity to engage late former Cuban President Fidel Castro in political discourse while serving as a bodyguard to visiting heads of state, The New York Daily News citing his son Floyd Jr.
"He earned a half-dozen citations for his outstanding police work, and survived a number of shootouts with armed bandits,” the report said, adding that Flying magazine disclosed that Carter Sr. was "the first African American commander of a heavy jet transport squadron."
Carter Sr. along with other Tuskegee Airmen were awarded the Congressional Gold Medal, in 2012, for their “World War II achievements that were made bittersweet by the racial discrimination they endured after returning home,” according to the U.S. Army.