2007-10-19 07:41:52 UTC
HERO REMEMBERED: Tuskegee Airman inspired others as a teacher,
Published October 11, 2007
BY JOE ROSSITER
FREE PRESS STAFF WRITER
A member of America's famed Tuskegee Airmen of World War II and later
a longtime educator with Detroit Public's Northern High School,
Richard Macon was held in the highest esteem for his wartime bravery
and the valuable knowledge he imparted.
Macon died Tuesday (October 9, 2007) at John D. Dingell VA Medical
Center in Detroit.
The Detroit resident's cause of death was not disclosed. He was 86.
"I have nothing but the utmost admiration and respect for the man,"
said Ted Talbert, a former student and TV writer who produced an
award-winning documentary about the Tuskegee Airmen.
"It was his influence that inspired me to want to know more about
history and life, in general."
Born in Birmingham, Ala., Macon earned a degree in mathematics from
Miles College in 1942. A year later, he joined the Army Air Forces and
graduated from the segregated flying school for black airmen at
Tuskegee, Ala., to become a fighter pilot.
Lt. Macon served as a replacement pilot with the 99th Fighter Squadron
and had 16 successful missions to his credit.
While strafing ground targets over southern France in August 1944,
Macon's P51 Mustang was hit by ground fire, flipping the airplane and
separating the right wing.
His neck was broken and the lower part of his body paralyzed by the
crash. He became a prisoner of war for more than nine months before
the camp where he was held was liberated by Gen. George Patton's 3rd
Army. Macon received several war decorations and retired with the rank
of captain. After the war, he earned a master's degree in mathematics
from Indiana University and started teaching at Northern High School
in 1956. He later served as high school principal and personnel
administrator before retiring in 1987.
Macon married his second wife, Eleanor Gurley, in 1977.
"He was a truly caring person who enjoyed helping others and believed
in education as a means of bettering oneself," his wife said. "
Talbert recalled how his former teacher would recount his days as a
wartime flier to his class. Years later, after reading articles and
doing research about the Tuskegee Airmen, Talbert produced a
documentary about them called "An Eagle Should Fly." Beside his wife,
survivors include two daughters, Toni Eubank and Phyl Macon; two
grandchildren; two great-grandchildren; two stepsons, Dwayne Gurley
and Norman Gurley; seven stepgrandchildren, and eight
Visitation is from 6 to 9 p.m. Saturday and 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday
and Monday at James H. Cole Home for Funerals, 2624 W. Grand Blvd.,
Detroit. Funeral services are 11 a.m. Tuesday at Westminster
Presbyterian Church, 17567 Hubbell, Detroit. A family hour will
precede services at 10 a.m. Burial will be Oct. 18 in Arlington
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