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Tuskegee Airmen Scholarship Foundation

Fred Johnson, Tuskegee Airman and Educator, Dies at 92

In Loving Memory

Captain Luther H. Smith, a decorated Tuskegee Airmen pilot flew 133 combat missions over Europe. Along with 275 other African American pilots, Smith completed nine months of aviator training in May 1943 and was commissioned at Tuskegee Airfield in Alabama. During the war, he escorted B-24 Liberators and B-17 Flying Fortresses over Yugoslavia, Hungary, Austria, Czechoslovakia, Poland and southwest Germany. Smith was credited with destroying two German aircraft in aerial combat and 10 German aircraft on the ground in strafing attacks. He suffered permanent injuries on his final mission, when he parachuted from his burning P-51 Mustang fighter over Hungary on Oct. 13, 1944. After his honorable discharge, he returned to the University of Iowa, earning an engineering degree was subsequently hired by General Electric, where he spent 37 years working as an aerospace engineer. Capt. Smith joined the Lonely Eagles in 2009.

Capt Luther Smith Passed Away at the Age of 89

His accomplishments were many, both in the military and in the world of education, where Johnson was a part of the initial faculty to staff the first high school for African-American students in Sussex County – William C. Jason High School – and later became the first black educator at Wilmington's Warner Junior High School. He worked there and eventually served as chairman of the science department until his retirement in 1981. (Excerpt taken from Johnson and family asks that in lieu of flowers, memorial donations be made to Tuskegee Airmen Scholarship Foundation.

Photo: Jennifer Corbett/The News Journal