America has lost another hero. On Tuesday, NBC Phoenix affiliate12News reported the passing of Lieutenant Colonel Asa D. Herring.
Herring was recruited into the Tuskegee Airman near the end of World War II. The all-Black squadron was an important part of American history. The Tuskegee Airmen fought valiantly for America and for freedom, even as they were denied their fundamental human rights at home. Nevertheless, the squadron earned a reputation for being brave, dogged and resilient.
Herring eventually left the military to pursue his education, and in true Tuskegee Airmen fashion, he didn’t just pursue an education, he excelled at it.
He graduated from several technical schools, including Tuskegee Institute, AL; Aeronautical University in Chicago; and Lewis College of Science and Technology in Lockport, Illinois, according to a statement provided by the Archer-Ragsdale Arizona Chapter.
He also earned a bacherlor’s degree in business administration and business management degree from Ottawa University.
Despite his military record and multiple degrees, Herring struggled to find work in 1949, segregated America. It was an unfortunate chapter in our history, but Herring did not let the evils of the Jim Crow era stop him from achieving. He rejoined the military and spent the next 22 years kicking ass.
He would spend 22 years at bases around the world, flying 350 combat missions in Vietnam, and earning several distinguished medals. Those decorations included the Distinguished Flying Cross, Bronze Star, and Air Medal with 13 Oak Leaf Clusters.
His accomplishments didn’t end there. Herring eventually became the first Black Squadron Commander at Luke Air Force Base in Arizona. After his military retirement he worked in management at Western-Electric Co.
America owes a great debt of gratitude to great men like Herring. He fought for freedom abroad, and in doing so, he strengthened the case for freedom for our fellow Americans at home. He served his country proudly, even when his country did not necessarily serve him, or the interests of Black Americans.
His life is a testament to the strength and resilience of this nation, and all of America thanks Lieutenant Colonel Herring for his service and his perseverance in the face of great injustice.
Herring passed away in Phoenix at the age of 95.