COLUMBUS, Miss. -- Alva Temple, one of the famed Tuskegee Airmen who became the nation's first black military pilots, died Saturday at his home. He was 86.
A cause of death was not released.
Mr. Temple was in the Air Force for 20 years and completed 120 missions during World War II, said Lucille Temple, his wife of nearly 60 years.
Mr. Temple trained at Tuskegee, Ala., as part of a program set up by the Pentagon during the war. The training was rigorous, with only 992 men graduating as Tuskegee Airmen.
The black pilots -- known as "Red Tails" for the color of the rear of their planes -- were credited with shooting down more than 100 enemy aircraft and never losing an American bomber to enemy fighters.
"We like to think that we played a part in the integration," Mr. Temple said earlier this year. "All I can say is, things are not as bad as they used to be. New opportunities have been opened up to our blacks."
Mr. Temple, who owned a gas station, was born Sept. 5, 1917, in rural Carrollton, Ala.