Tuskegee Airman Buford A. Johnson, of Highland, dies at 89

Buford A. Johnson, a Tuskegee Airman who served as a mechanic and crew chief in the Army Air Corps and U.S. Air Force and spent his retirement years introducing new generations to the history of the World War II African-American fighter corps, has died.

Johnson, of Highland, died Saturday, April 15.  He was 89 and a retired master sergeant after an Air Force career that included World War II and the Korean War, according to his family obituary.

Johnson served from 1945 to 1966, starting with the famed 99th Fighter Squadron formed for African-American service members in Tuskegee, Ala.

Johnson was with the 99th from 1946 to 1948, the year President Harry S Truman issued an executive order desegregating the armed forces.

“They weren’t good. They weren’t very good. They were the best,” he liked to say of the Tuskegee group.

The Inland chapter of the Tuskegee Airmen bears his name, said Donald Fleming, president of the Buford A. Johnson Chapter of Tuskegee Airmen Inc.

“I believe he was the only enlisted man who had a chapter named after him,” Fleming said in an interview. “He was the star of our show.”

Johnson liked to tell the story that when he was drafted out of high school to the Navy, he didn’t want to be a cook — his likely role back then — so he joined the Army Air Corps, Fleming said

“He always wanted to work on planes. He could fix anything,” Fleming said of Johnson.

In a 2007 interview with the San Bernardino Sun, Johnson said…

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