Tuskegee Airman celebrates 90th birthday with 99th FTS July 30

  • Published
  • Joint Base San Antonio-Randolph Public Affairs

Dr. Granville Coggs, a documented original Tuskegee Airman, celebrated his 90th birthday in the skies during a ‘fini’ flight and ceremony with the 99th Flying Training Squadron July 30 at Joint Base San Antonio-Randolph.

Though Coggs was unable to attend the Tuskegee Airmen Tribute ceremony held at JBSA-Randolph June 11-12, 99th FTS members offered to fly him as they had other Tuskegee Airmen in June.

“Dr. Coggs is an American hero and a pioneer,” Lt. Col. Oliver Johnson, 99th FTS commander, said. “This is a huge day for the 99th FTS and 12th Flying Training Wing. We get to celebrate with Dr. Coggs, one of approximately 150 Tuskegee Airmen pilots left out of the 992 pilots originally trained in Alabama, all while showcasing our mission.”

In regard to spending his 90th birthday in the air, Coggs said he had “no words for his excitement.”

“I am impressed and challenged the more I associate with the 99th FTS,” he said. “I am impressed that the actions of the Tuskegee Airmen during the war years are credible enough that the 99th FTS has chosen to model themselves after them.”

Following his flight, Coggs was presented with 99th FTS memorabilia and had his name badge “retired” during a ceremony in his honor.

An all African-American pursuit unit of the U.S. Army Air Corps established in 1941 and based in Tuskegee, Ala., the Tuskegee Airmen included pilots, navigators, bombardiers, maintenance and support staff, instructors and others who kept the flying mission running.

After joining the Tuskegee Airmen, Coggs was trained as an aerial gunner in 1944, commissioned as a bombardier and flew a B-25 Mitchell bomber, but finished training too late to be deployed into war.

 “I hope Americans remember the Tuskegee Airmen as a group of role models, that this group will inspire young people to know that they can accomplish anything and overcome any obstacle,” Coggs said.

Johnson said he and other members of the 99th FTS are proud to uphold that heritage.

“It is the greatest honor of my life to be part of the history and heritage of this squadron,” he said. “Every time I come to work I’m humbled to know what they did to blaze a trail, overcome adversity and that they refused to fail. They knew the criticism they would face and still fought to fight for their country.”

Consistently athletic throughout his life and a multiple gold medalist at the Texas State Senior Games in the 400 meter run, Coggs said his “sprinting days are past.”

“I regret that I’m not the physical specimen I was 10 or 20 years ago, but I’m glad I got to where I am now,” he said. “I’m still doing everything I can.”

For over 30 years, Coggs worked as a diagnostic radiologist, focusing on breast cancer detection and inventing two ultrasound devices.

Coggs currently lives in San Antonio with his wife, Maud.