Hundreds gathered Saturday for a special farewell for a local man who helped shape history for our entire country. William Booker, one of only two original members of the Tuskegee Airmen living in Western Washington, passed away a few weeks ago.
Loved ones say William Booker wasn't looking to re-write history when he joined the army in 1941.
“They were patriotic, they wanted to go serve their country,” Booker’s wife Dolores explained.
Friends describe him as a quiet and humble man who signed up for the army’s first segregated bomber squadron without realizing the impact it would make.
“He was one of those trailblazers,” Dr. Norwood Brooks told those at his memorial service.
Representatives from Tuskegee Airmen support groups presented proclamations and talked about the impact of the service of people like Booker. They were honored for fighting two wars at the same time; one overseas and one at home.
“These guys are my heroes they had to fight, in order to fight for their country,” Cyril Miller said.
World War II ended before Booker's group ever had the chance to deploy, but there was no doubt they had made a mark.
“These were the best of the best they made it possible for people like me and other people to enter the military,” Miller said.
Booker's legacy also includes several decades as an engineer at Boeing and a history of community service.
“I think we are so proud of those original Tuskegee Airman and the lives that they led, even after the war,” Booker’s daughter, Leslyn Jones Petitt, said.
With his passing, friends and family promised to keep telling his story and making sure the next generation understands their bravery and sacrifice.