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Tuskegee Airman navigator dies in Mass.

Feb. 13, 2013 - 11:45AM   |   Last Updated: Feb. 13, 2013 - 11:45AM  |  
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METHUEN, Mass. — Luther McIlwain, a navigator with the famed Tuskegee Airmen who broke military racial barriers during World War II, a retired New York City police officer, and a civil rights advocate in Massachusetts, has died. He was 91.

The Charles Dewhirst funeral home in Methuen says McIlwain died Friday.

He was born in Blaine, S.C., and moved with his family to Massachusetts at age 2. He graduated from a Methuen high school in 1939 and attended Allen University in Columbia, S.C., before enlisting in the Army Air Corps in 1943. He was a 2nd lieutenant with the black 477th Bombardment Group and was honorably discharged in 1947.

He was a police officer from 1946 until retirement in 1968, when he returned to Methuen.

He is survived by his wife.

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