PORT CLINTON, Ohio (WJW) – One of the last remaining members of the legendary Tuskegee Airmen has passed away. 

Dr. Harold Brown, of Port Clinton, died at 98. 

When young Brown told his mother that he wanted to quit his piano lessons and become a pilot, he would later write that she looked at him like he was crazy.

But, he saved his money and took flying lessons, over the continued objections of his mother.

During World War II, he became a member of the Tuskegee Airmen, a group of African American fighter pilots who broke through every barrier they encountered.

The Tuskegee Airmen helped lead the Allies to victory in Europe, where their distinctive P-51 Mustangs with red tails were feared by the enemy.

They also earned the respect of allied bomber crews and troops on the ground.

During a presentation at Cuyahoga Community College in 2017, Brown spoke with FOX 8 News about the odds that he and his fellow Tuskegee Airmen were able to overcome.

“I guess the biggest thing I am most proud of is the fact that, considering everything we faced, all of the problems, all of the obstacles, we overcame every one of them and made a success out of it. Failure was not an option. We had to succeed or God knows what would have happened,” he said.

Near the end of the war, Brown was shot down during a combat mission over Austria.

He would later recall being captured and being held in a jail cell with white servicemen. He wrote in his book, “Keep Your Airspeed Up,” that being held as a prisoner of war was his “first experience with integration.” 

After the war, Brown continued to serve and flew combat missions during the Korean War.

He later retired from the Air Force as a Lieutenant Colonel.

He earned his doctorate in education at Ohio State and eventually settled in the Port Clinton area, where he was a respected member of the community.

Dr. Brown died on Thursday.

The mayor of Port Clinton says the 98-year-old will always be remembered as a great American patriot.

“It’s just humbling to realize all of the challenges that he and the fellow Tuskegee Airmen had to overcome to accomplish their mission and, in essence, to help save the world,” Mayor Mike Snider told FOX 8. “He was proud of his military service, proud of being an American and we were all very proud of what he did for us as well.” 

A public celebration of Dr. Brown’s life will be held on March 4 at the Liberty Aviation Museum in Port Clinton.