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One year ago: Roger 'Bill' Terry

June 11, 2010 |  7:00 am

Roger-terryOne year ago today, a man who prominently fought for racial integration in the military died. Roger "Bill" Terry was an officer in an all-black group of World War II pilots known as the Tuskegee Airmen, which became famous for staging what came to be called the Freeman Field Mutiny.

In April 5, 1945, Terry helped 2nd Lt. Coleman A. Young, who later became mayor of Detroit, send black airmen over to an exclusively-white officers' club, three at a time, at Freeman Field in Indiana.

In all, 162 black officers were arrested, but only Terry and two others received a general courts-martial. He was fined $150, reduced in rank and dishonorably discharged in November 1945 without ever having traveled overseas.

Terry helped found Tuskegee Airmen Inc. in 1972 to draw attention to their history, and on Aug. 2, 1995, the Army pardoned him, restored his rank and refunded his $150 fine. In 2007, Terry and several other airmen collectively received a Congressional Gold Medal from President George W. Bush.

Terry's son Jeff told this to The Times about his father:

"He was really quite gratified that he and his colleagues were honored in his lifetime.... With him, it really was the right thing to do, and he accepted the consequences of his actions. He knew if people didn't take a stand, things were not going to change, and they had to change."

Read more in Roger Terry's obituary from The Times.

Photo: Roger Terry. Credit: Liz O. Baylen / Los Angeles Times