Two members of the famed Tuskegee Airmen, a group of African-American military pilots and mechanics who fought in World War II, died recently on the same day.
Clarence E. Huntley Jr. and Joseph Shambrey died Jan. 5. Both men lived in Los Angeles and both were 91 years old.
It is the third death in three weeks of a member of the Los Angeles chapter of the group, Ron Brewington, chapter president, tells NorthStar Today.Com and BlackmansStreet.Today. On Dec. 17th, Lowell Steward, a fighter pilot, died in Ventura, Calif. Mr. Steward was 95.
“We now have 20 documented Tuskegee Airmen, down from 23 since early December,” Brewington said.
Huntley and Shambrey, who enlisted in 1942, were mechanics assigned to the 100th Fighter Squadron of the Army Air Force’s 332nd Fighter Group in Italy. Huntley was crew chief responsible for the plane of Capt. Andrew D. Turner, the squadron leader. Shambrey, an armorer, placed bullets in the guns of the P-39, P-47 and P-51 fighter planes, Brewington said.
Formally, the Tuskegee Airmen formed the 332nd Fighter Group and the 477th Bombardment Group of the United States Army Air Forces.
When the two men returned to Alabama after their service, there was a hospitality station at the Chehaw, Ala., train station, near Tuskegee Airfield. Both men were wearing their uniforms like the white soldiers. The whites, however, were warmly welcomed and given a free cup of coffee. Shambrey and Huntley weren’t welcomed and had to pay for their coffee.
After the war, Huntley worked as a skycap for more than 60 years in Los Angeles and Burbank and Shambrey was a combat engineer during the Korean War. He later worked for the Los Angeles County Department of Parks and Recreation.
The Los Angeles chapter of the Tuskegee Airmen boasts 108 members but the majority of them did not serve with the organization during World War II; nonetheless, they want to preserve the history of the group.
Gospel singer, composer and choir director Andraé Crouch died Jan. 8 after suffering a heart attack in Northridge Hospital Medical Center, in Northridge, Calif., according to a news release posted by his agent, Brian Mayes of the Nashville Publicity Group. Crouch was 72 and lived in Los Angeles. He had been in the hospital since Jan. 3.
Crouch won seven Grammys during his more than 50-year career. Crouch wrote songs for Michael Jackson, Madonna and for movies including “The Lion King.” He was successful despite a lifelong struggle with dyslexia. To create, he drew figures that allowed him to grasp concepts relevant to his projects.
Crouch was born July 1, 1942, in San Francisco.