He talked, danced, ate, played, served and did business with kings, queens and potentates. His life story flows like the pages of history. He is Judge Robert Decatur, an amazing legend among men who helped to prove the value of all men at a time when Blacks were considered second-class citizens. He experienced the snub, humiliation and even the persecution for attempting to claim the rights and privileges deserving of all citizens.
Judge Decatur is one of 14 children––eight boys and six girls. He grew up at a time when the demeanor toward African-Americans was commonly nothing short of hostile.
Until his death on Wednesday, August 19th, at the age of 88, Judge Decatur was one of the last of the original Tuskegee Airmen
During World War II, when blacks weren't considered capable of serving as pilots in the armed forces, Decatur was selected for the ground-breaking Tuskegee Airmen Experiment. He was chosen as the first black pre-flight cadet to be sent to Keesler Field in Biloxi, Miss., for basic training. His perfect score on the entry exam raised doubts about his integrity and he was forced to retake the test.
The nearly 1,000 airmen, including Decatur, who were chosen in 1943 as part of the Tuskegee project were later recognized as a distinguished group that actually fought two wars: World War II abroad and another at home against the racism that existed in the United States and its segregated military.
Their war-time successes included never losing a bomber to enemy fire in 1,500 missions; destroying more than 100 German airplanes in the air and 950 rail cars, trucks and other motor vehicles on the ground; as well as sinking one destroyer with machine gunfire. They also were instrumental in the subsequent integration of the U.S. military.
But it wasn't until 1995 — when Decatur's role as a pilot was portrayed by actor Laurence Fishburne in the award-winning film Tuskegee Airmen — that the nation became widely aware of the airmen's war-time contributions.
Judge Decatur was a TRUE American hero. A gentleman, and a gentle man, Judge Decatur defended our country, served as a Federal Judge presiding over more than 10,000 cases, taught law at six different universities, served with humanitarian missions and raised a family.
He was legal counsel to Martin Luther King, Jr., a member of John Kennedy's Diplomatic team, was a member of the panel that presided over the famed "Mississippi Burning" case, and was a recipient of numerous awards and accolades.
Judge Decatur was among the surviving airmen who received the Congressional Gold Medal, the nation's highest civilian award, in 2007 from Congress and President George W. Bush. Other recipients of this honor include George Washington, Rosa Parks, Mother Teresa and Nelson Mandela.
He is survived by his wife Rose; son, Randolph Decatur of Pennsylvania; daughters Diane Tatum and Dawne Mumford, both of Titusville, and Isha Richards of Ohio; stepson Anthony Wilson; seven grandchildren; and six great-grandchildren.
Please join me in expressing how grateful we are for Robert's service to our country. I've set up free accounts so you can send a card to his family (first 25 people). Please just CLICK HERE to send a card... the address is:
Mrs. Rose Decatur (or Mrs. Robert Decatur) & family
7990 Windover Way, Titusville, FL 32780-2510
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