Former Tuskegee Airman dies days ahead of his 100th birthday

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FILE – In this Wednesday, Dec. 9, 2020, file photo, Alfred Farrar, a Tuskegee Airman who is celebrating his 100th birthday in December, poses for a portrait in the doorway of his home in Lynchburg, Va. Farrar died on Thursday, Dec. 17, 2020, in Virginia, only days before a ceremony planned to honor his service in the program that famously trained Black military pilots during World War II. He was 99. Farrar’s 100th birthday would’ve been on Dec. 26. (Kendall Warner/The News & Advance via AP, File)

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LYNCHBURG, Virginia (AP) — Alfred Thomas Farrar, a former Tuskegee Airman, died on Thursday in Virginia only days before a ceremony planned to honor his service in the program that famously trained Black military pilots during World War II. He was 99.

Farrar’s son, Roy, told The Associated Press on Sunday that his father died at his Lynchburg home. Alfred Farrar would have turned 100 years old on Dec. 26.

Farrar left his Lynchburg hometown for Tuskegee, Alabama, after graduating from high school to began his aviation training in 1941.

“It was the next best thing to do,” Farrar had told The News & Advance in a story that ran last week.

Farrar learned to be a pilot during his time in U.S. Army Air Corps program but didn’t fly any combat missions overseas, according to his son.

Roy Farrar said he was proud of his father’s service but doesn’t remember him having much to say about his time as a Tuskegee Airman.

“It was just something that he did at the time, that was needed at the time,” Roy Farrar said.

After his discharge in 1943, Alfred Farrar studied to be an aerospace engineer and worked as an engineer with the Federal Aviation Administration for four decades.

WFXR-TV reports that the Lynchburg Area Veterans Council plans to honor Farrar and his service during the council’s “troop rally” on Christmas Day.

“In spite of tremendous discrimination, these young American men and women served their nation with distinction and opened the door of opportunity for many other Americans,” the council said in a statement.

Roy Farrar said several planes are expected to fly over a separate memorial ceremony for his father on his birthday this week.

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