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Published: Wednesday, 6/3/2009

Original Tuskegee Airman dies in Cleveland


CLEVELAND One of the original Tuskegee Airmen, the country's first black military pilots and ground crew, has died in Cleveland.

Retired Sgt. James Travis was fond of speaking about his experiences with the airmen during World War II. The coroner's office says he was 86 when he died at home of natural causes on May 26.

The funeral is Thursday at Antioch Baptist Church in Cleveland.

In January, Travis was too frail to go to Washington with seven other members of the Cleveland-area's North Coast Chapter of Tuskegee Airmen Inc. President Barack Obama had invited the airmen to his inauguration.

Travis trained at Tuskegee, Ala., as an aerial engineer, gunner and crew chief. He was assigned to the 477th Bombardment Group and served at several U.S. bases.

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