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Dec. 25, 2023

Happy 108th, Airman


Christmas Day in Las Cruces included a celebration of the 108th birthday of Lt. James Clayton Flowers, a retired Tuskegee Airman and Las Cruces resident pictured here with former Doña Ana County Manager Julia Brown (background) and retired Las Cruces educator and civil rights leader Dorris Hamilton.

Flowers, born on Dec. 25, 1915, served in the 477th Medium Bomber Group, aka the Tuskegee Airmen, during World War II, making him one of the U.S. Army’s first black pilots. Flowers was among a large group of Black officers who attempted to enter an all-white officers’ club in 1945, leading some of the officers to be arrested and court-martialed. Flowers retired from the Army as a first lieutenant the following year.

Community members organized a drive-by birthday celebration for him Monday, with Mayor Ken Miyagishima among those paying him a visit amid fire trucks and Las Cruces Police vehicles.

108 Birthday Clayton Flowers Tuskegee Airman