29 January 2010

RIP: Lee Archer

Lee A Archer
6 Sep 1919 - 27 Jan 2010

ZUI this article from the New York Times:
Retired Air Force Lt. Colonel Lee A. Archer, a Tuskegee Airman considered to be the only black ace pilot who also broke racial barriers as an executive at a major U.S. company and founder of a venture capital firm, died Wednesday in New York City. He was 90.

His son, Roy Archer, said his father died at Cornell University Medical Center in Manhattan. A cause of death was not immediately determined, The Associated Press reported.


Mr. Archer was acknowledged to have shot down four planes, and he and another pilot both claimed victory for shooting down a fifth plane. An investigation revealed Mr. Archer had inflicted the damage that destroyed the plane, said Mr. Brown, and the Air Force eventually proclaimed him an ace pilot.


Born on Sept. 6, 1919, in Yonkers and raised in Harlem, Mr. Archer left New York University to enlist in the Army Air Corps in 1941 but was rejected for pilot training because the military didn’t allow blacks to serve as pilots.

”A War Department study in 1925 expressly stated that Negroes didn’t have the intelligence, or the character, or the leadership to be in combat units, and particularly, they didn’t have the ability to be Air Force pilots,” said Mr. Brown.

Mr. Archer instead joined a segregated Army Air Corps unit at the Tuskegee, Ala., air base, graduating from pilot training in July 1943.


Mr. Archer is survived by three sons and a daughter. His wife, Ina Archer, died in 1996. Services have yet to be announced.

Oral history clips of Lt Col Archer can be found here.

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