Remains Indentify Tuskegee Airman Who Vanished 79 Years Ago During World War II
The family of a missing Tuskegee Airman is finally getting some closure.
The remains of 2nd Lt. Fred L. Brewer have finally been identified after almost 80 years, WSOC-TV reports. Brewer’s remains were identified on Aug. 10, 2023, by the Pentagon and the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency.
The lieutenant was a member of the historic Tuskegee Airmen, a group of African American military pilots—fighter and bomber—and airmen who fought during World War II. Brewer was last seen piloting one of 57 fighter planes—a single-seat P-51C Mustang nicknamed “Traveling Light”–on a mission to Regensburg, Germany, on Oct. 29, 1944. Forty-seven planes returned safely to base after running into heavy cloud cover in southern Italy. Brewer was not with them.
Reportedly, Brewer attempted to climb over the clouds when he paused and tailspinned down to Earth. “Reports from other pilots on the mission indicate that 2nd Lt. Brewer had been attempting to climb his aircraft out of the cloud cover but stalled out and fell into a spin,” the agency said, according to ABC News. His remains were found in a civilian cemetery close to the area after the war, but technology couldn’t assist with identification during that time.
The case was examined in 2011, and researchers found an Italian police report showing the remains were recovered from a fighter plane that crashed on the same day as Brewer’s disappearance.
Descendants of Brewer’s family said they were devastated when they received the news of his disappearance. “I remember how devastating it was when they notified my family, my aunt and uncle, that he was missing,” the pilot’s cousin, Robena Brewer Harrison, said. “It just left a void within our family. My aunt, who was his mother, Janie, she never, ever recovered from that.”
According to a death certificate, his mother died shortly after from a stroke at 49.
Brewer was a native of Charlotte, North Carolina, and a graduate of Shaw University, an HBCU. Another cousin, Brenda L. Brewer, says she hopes the family can heal with his remains being returned home. “He’s coming back now, and I’m happy for him, and I finally finish a mission of mine in life, to bring this pilot home,” Brewer said.