Retired Lt. Col. Lee A. Archer, one of the World War II famed Tuskegee Airmen died Jan. 27 at a New York medical center, reports Associated Press (via the New York Times). He was 90. Fellow Tuskegee Airman Roscoe Brown Jr. told AP that it’s “generally conceded that Lee Archer was the first and only black ace pilot.” Official Air Force records credit Archer with four aerial victories, but some believe Archer inflicted the critical damage to a fifth, reportedly shared shootdown, giving him a total of five and ace status. Archer enlisted in the Army in 1941, serving first as a communications specialist before entering the new black pilot program at Tuskegee, Ala. He went on to fly 169 combat missions, receiving the Distinguished Flying Cross. After retiring from USAF, Archer served as a VP with General Foods and later founded a venture capital firm. (Note: The Tuskegee Airmen received a collective Congressional Gold Medal in 2007.) (Also see this link to NPR interview with Archer; Tuskegee Airmen bio sketch on Archer; Tuskegee Airmen from the Archives of Air Force Magazine.)
The U.S. supports “a stronger and more capable” European defense, Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III said during an Oct. 22 press conference in Brussels—but that defense should not duplicate the functions and capabilities of the NATO alliance.