ST. PETERSBURG (FOX 13) — At 101 years old, Willie Rogers was living history. He was a member of the famed all-black Tuskegee Airmen.
Rogers would rise to title of master sergeant during a time of deep racial segregation in the 1940s.
“His character; he was able to overcome it and look past it,” said his daughter, Felicia Rogers.
“I’m proud of him for the way he handled everything about his life,” offered daughter Veronica Williams.
Rogers was drafted into the Army in 1942. His role with the Red Tail Angels was on the ground with logistics. Following his military service, Rogers moved to St. Pete. He lived out his later years at the Burlington Towers.
“He’d walk from Burlington Towers, a block and a half. We’d call it the Burlington Bethel walk,” said Reverend Kenneth Irby.
Reverend Irby heads up the Bethel AME Church. Rogers would sit in the same seat every Sunday for some 70 years. .
“He was definitely what is an overused term he was an icon in this community,” said Reverend Irby.
Rogers received his Congressional Gold Medal in November 2013. Despite his accomplishments, he was always known for his humility.
“He would always say this is really not about me there are other people who made sacrifice,” said Rev. Irby.
Still he was and always will be remembered as an American hero.
“I just say, ‘Dad, thank you for giving us a beautiful example of what to do and how to do it,'” Williams added.