Memorial bench honoring OTA John Leahr and B-17 pilot Herbert Heilbrun

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It was the wish of Documented Original Tuskegee Airmen (DOTA) Staff Sergeant / Flight Chief Leslie Edwards, Jr., that a memorial bench be dedicated on May 12, 2017 in honor of the courage of two World War II combat veterans, and their very special connection.

1st Lt John H. Leahr, a Tuskegee Airman who flew the iconic P-51C Mustang, and 1st Lt Herbert M. Heilbrun, B-17 bomber pilot, were students at North Avondale Elementary School in 1928. However, because of racial issues and divisions in America, they never got to be friends.

When they met again later in life and compared their logbooks, they discovered that Leahr had escorted Heilbrun on two separate occasions, most notable on the occasion when Heilbrun’s B-17 had been hit and Leahr escorted him safely back to his base.

They became close friends and enjoyed telling stories of their military experiences. For years they spoke to many audiences, sharing their unique friendship with people of all ages. They were even the subject of a book Black and White Airmen: Their True History.


Learn more about Flight Chief Leslie Edwards, Jr in TUSKEGEE AIRMEN PROFILES!