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One of two original Tuskegee Airmen left in Arizona, Lt. Col. Asa Herring, Jr. has died

Asa Herring Climbing into plane.jpeg
Posted at 9:09 PM, May 27, 2022
and last updated 2022-05-29 13:52:11-04

PHOENIX — Lieutenant Colonel Asa D. Herring, Jr, one of just two original remaining Tuskegee Airmen in Arizona, died at the age of 95 Friday. He was also the first Black Squadron Commander at Luke Air Force Base.

He died Friday at his Arizona home surrounded by family.

The last remaining original Tuskegee Airmen in Arizona currently lives in Flagstaff.

Details on just some of Herring, Jr.’s accomplishments are provided by the Archer-Ragsdale Arizona Chapter of the Tuskegee Airmen below:

“Asa Herring was born in Dunn, North Carolina on October 3, 1926. He had been an avid aviation enthusiast all of his life. He graduated from high school at the age of sixteen and while a student at Tuskegee Institute, in their Aircraft Maintenance program, he passed the Army Air Corps Aviation Cadet written examination. Since he was only seventeen years of age, he had to wait until he was eighteen before he could be inducted. His active duty status began on December 27, 1944. As an Aviation Cadet he flew the Stearman PT-17 and the AT-6. It was apparent that WWII was in its final stages. Germany had surrendered and the “Tuskegee Experiment” was one of many other flying schools scheduled to be eliminated. Flying continued but was expected to be drastically curtailed. All Cadets that had volunteered, not draftees, were given the option of accepting an honorable discharge. Partly because of segregation policies in the military and the desire to further his education, Asa chose discharge.

After discharge, he graduated from several topnotch technical schools

(Tuskegee Institute, Tuskegee, AL; Aeronautical University in Chicago, IL; Lewis College of Science and Technology in Lockport, IL). Although Asa received his credentials from the Civil Aeronautics Administration as a

certified Aircraft and Engine Mechanic and Aircraft Ground Instructor (#1133080) in 1959, he was still unable to obtain employment with an airline or fixed base operator. By this time the Air Force had come into its own as an autonomous branch of the military, equal to the other services, and segregation had been banned in the military, by President Harry S. Truman’s Executive Order 9981. Being on the horns of a dilemma, Asa again volunteered for military service in June of 1949 and remained on active duty until June 1970 when he retired in the rank of Lieutenant Colonel.

During his 22 years of military service he served in England, Korea, Germany, Vietnam and had other temporary assignments worldwide. He was the first Black Squadron Commander at Luke Air Force Base and trained pilots from several European countries in the F-104G Jet Fighter Gunnery Program. He was officially appointed an honorary Command Pilot in the German Luftwaffe.

After retiring from the USAF in 1970 Asa joined Western- Electric Co. (Manufacturing branch of AT&T). There he served in several management positions including; Personnel; Quality Assurance; Manufacturing Operations; Benefits Administration etc. He retired from AT&T in December of 1989. He received a degree in Business Administration / Business Management from Ottawa University, KS.

He was preceded in death by his wife, Honor Herring and parents Asa D. Herring, Sr. and Lucy S. Herring. He is survived by his two sons, Asa D. Herring, III (Merle)(Winston-Salem, NC) and Mark Alan Herring (Phoenix, AZ), grandchildren Jacent Chestnut (Atlanta, GA), Rachel Shrank (Lafayette, IN) Martina Blasingame (Kent), Jenna Herring (Blue Springs, MO), Christopher Herring (Charlotte, NC), Tracy Thomas (Perry)(Winston-Salem, NC), Michael Herring (Phoenix, AZ) and 15 great-grandchildren.

Awards and Decorations:

Distinguished Flying Cross
Bronze Star
Air Medal w/ 13 Oak Leaf Clusters
Air Force Commendation Medal
Good Conduct Medal (U.S. Army and Air Force)
WWII Victory Medal

National Defense Service Medal with 1 BSS

Armed Forces Reserve Medal

USAF Outstanding Unit Award

Meritorious Unit Commendation (USAF)

Air Force Longevity Service Award Ribbon with 4 Oak Leaf Clusters

Vietnam Service Medal

Republic of Vietnam Campaign Medal

Small Arms Expert Marksman Medal

173rd Airborne Brigade (Vietnam) Certificate of Achievement for Outstanding Service as Air Liaison Officer

Congressional Gold Medal of Honor

Aircraft Flown: PT-17, AT-6, O1 E&F, F-51 D,T-33, F-86 A; F-84 F, F-100 C, D,F, F-104 G.

Combat Missions Flown: 350

Civic Activities:

Former member of Phoenix Union High School Vocational Advisory Board; Opportunities Industrialization Center (OIC) /Prevocational Advisory Board; Board of Directors, Phoenix Business Development Center; Chairman of the General Merchandise Concessions Committee (Module III), Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport; Chairman of the City of Phoenix Municipal Aeronautics Division Board and City of Phoenix Community Development Block Grant Committee, Life Member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity.