Local Veteran Tuskegee Airman turns 100

A member of the history-making Tuskegee Airmen lives in our area and is turning 100 years old today and we were there for the celebration. This was no ordinary birthday bash. Being there to celebrate with a Tuskegee Airman who was born a century ago was like jumping into the pages of an amazing history book.        

Meet Sgt. Mazie Warren, Veteran of the famous Tuskegee Airmen, who was born 100 years ago on March 5, 1919.  “How does it feel to be 100?” His daughter asks and he laughs before responding.  ”Better than anything else”. 

In the 1940’s Sgt. Warren became a Tuskegee Airman, a group of African American military pilots who fought in World War II. 

“It was unheard of to think of a black man flying. We weren’t thought to have the ability, the mentality to do those specific types of things but the Tuskegee Airmen made a liar out of the whole world,” says Captain Richard Kimball Watkins who grew up in Huntsville near Sgt. Warren. ”I’m the only African American combat helicopter pilot from this community and I was able to do that because of his service."

“Both of my sons they also joined the Air Force,” adds Sgt. Warren’s son Jerry Warren who spent 24 years in the Air Force after being inspired by his dad. 

So what does Sgt. Warren remember most about being a Tuskegee Airman? The formations. 

“The coloreds and the whites all of us had formations.  Keep your eyes off the ground, guide it right and cover down,” he recites still remembering his old flight formation chants.

Something else that’s unforgettable? Sgt. Warren and the other Tuskegee Airmen returned as war heroes but only to some. “When they got off the ship they weren’t even allowed to go in the Post Exchange and buy toilet items. When they left for home, they got on the back of the train and the back of the bus,” says Captain Watkins. 

“During World War II it was segregated. Blacks didn’t have all the privileges the whites had,” says Jerry Warren. 

“It’s just hard for me to talk about, because not only did they protect the people that treated them so horribly, but they did it with pride for their nation, an ungrateful nation,” adds Captain Watkins through tears. 

Today Sgt. Warren’s country is showing its gratitude with birthday gifts sent by two members of Congress to mark a major milestone for a man who selflessly served his country.