A member of the famed all-Black Tuskegee Airmen who died in Arizona will be remembered this week.
Martinez Funeral Chapels in Nogales confirmed a funeral for George Washington Biggs is scheduled for Thursday.
Biggs died on Saturday at age 95. His daughter, Rose Biggs-Dickerson, told The Arizona Republic that her father had been living in a senior-care facility in Tucson.
A native of Nogales, Biggs enlisted in 1943 at age 18 with the U.S. Army Air Corps, which later became the U.S. Air Force.
Friends of George W. Biggs have been sending in Tributes to sympathize with the family
Praying for the family of George Washington Biggs, one of the last living Tuskegee Airmen from AZ, who passed away over the weekend. He was a brave soldier in WWII & one of the first African-American airmen in our military. We're grateful for his heroism. https://t.co/WtN8CHxjjA— Congresswoman Debbie Lesko (@RepDLesko) September 22, 2020
The Tuskegee Airmen were REAL LIFE super heroes-risking their lives for the USA in WWII. Over the weekend, Arizona lost one of these brave and courageous heroes when George Biggs (far right), passed away in Nogales. RIP George & THANK YOU for your tremendous service. @TAINational pic.twitter.com/Lc0fT6yLKh— Jan Brewer (@GovBrewer) September 22, 2020
Saddened to hear of the passing of Arizona’s George Biggs, one of the last living Tuskegee Airmen. Today and every day, we’re grateful for his service and sacrifice to our country. https://t.co/HqRMVs4GU0— Kyrsten Sinema (@SenatorSinema) September 22, 2020
Tuskegee Airman, Maj (Ret) George Biggs passed last night at the age of 95.— Maria Hunt (@mariabiggs13) September 20, 2020
I’m honored to have him as an Uncle and thank him for his service to country pic.twitter.com/8eaXHQow5a
He was placed in an elite group of fighter pilots trained at Alabama’s Tuskegee Institute. The program was created after the NAACP began challenging policies barring Black people from flying military aircraft.
In the mid-1950s, Biggs was stationed at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base in Tucson. He was one of the base’s first African-American officers and helped incorporate minority soldiers, his daughter told the newspaper.
He flew B-47 and B-52 bombers in the Korean and Vietnam wars while earning numerous military honors.
Despite his accomplishments, he spoke often of the discrimination he faced in the military. Biggs-Dickerson said her father retired in the 1970s and became an agent for the U.S. Customs Service in Nogales.
According to the funeral home’s online obituary, Biggs is survived by his wife, 10 children, 22 grandchildren and 24 great-grandchildren.
Bigg’s Life in Summary:
When Biggs enlisted in the U.S. Army Air Corps in 1943 at age 18, it was his second attempt to join up – he had been denied when he tried to enlist at age 16. He was placed with the Tuskegee Airmen, the elite group of Black pilots and other airmen, where he trained as a navigator. In the years after the war, decided to reenlist in the U.S. Air Force as a non-commissioned officer. His career took him to Davis-Monthan Air Force Base in Tucson, where he was one of the first Black officers and helped integrate the base, though he later spoke of the severe discrimination he and other Black military personnel endured. He was promoted to major, and he flew in the Korean War and the Vietnam War.
After his retirement from the Air Force, Biggs became an agent for the U.S. Customs Service in Nogales, Arizona. In 2007, Biggs was among the Tuskegee Airmen who were honored with the Congressional Gold Medal. Upon Biggs’ 95th birthday in June 2020, U.S. Rep. Ruben Gallego wished him a happy birthday on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives and noted, “Mr. Biggs’ character and actions truly embody what it means to serve one’s country.”