Two members of the Tuskegee Airmen — the famed all-black squadron that flew in World War II — died on the same day. The men, lifelong friends who enlisted together, were 91.
Clarence E. Huntley Jr. and Joseph Shambrey died on Jan. 5 in their Los Angeles homes, relatives said Sunday.
Huntley and Shambrey enlisted in 1942. They were shipped overseas to Italy in 1944 with the 100th Fighter Squadron of the Army Air Force’s 332nd Fighter Group. As mechanics, they kept the combat planes flying.
Huntley serviced P-39, P-47 and P-51 aircraft, and as crew chief was responsible for the plane of the squadron commander, Capt. Andrew D. Turner, said Huntley’s nephew, Craig Huntly of Inglewood. “The life of his pilot was in his hands, and he took that very seriously,” his nephew said.
His concern led Turner to nickname him “Mother,” Huntly said.
In addition to facing danger, the Tuskegee Airmen faced racism.
Shambrey’s son, Tim Shambrey of Altadena, said his father recalled getting off a train in Alabama where a hospitality station was welcoming returning white troops with handshakes and free coffee.
“When he and his buddies came off, dressed in their uniforms, of course they didn’t get any congratulations” and were asked to pay for their coffee, Shambrey said.
They did so.
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