JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-RANDOLPH, Texas --
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.