On December 24, 1944, Captain Lawrence Dickson, a P-51 pilot and Tuskegee Airman took off from an airfield in Italy on a photo reconnaissance mission over Prague, Czechoslovakia and never came back.
Dickson was a seasoned P-51 pilot. In fact, the day before he took off on this mission, he was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross. He had already flown 68 combat missions, just two shy of the 70 that would give him the opportunity to go on R&R back to the states for 30 days.
While in flight to his mission target, Dickson reported to his squadron that he was having engine problems. Soon after that, his wing man reported seeing Dickson bail out of his plane at 26,000 feet.
No wreckage or remains were ever found. His wife was finally told in 1949 that his body was unrecoverable.
In August 2017, a team of researcher working in the Austrian Alps came across the wreckage of a P-51 Mustang and some human remains. They contacted the United States Army and the POW/MIA Accounting Agency went to work on identifying the remains. They used a sample of DNA from Dickson’s now 75-year-old daughter, Marla Andrews, and found that the DNA of the remains found in the Austrian Alps was a match.
Captain Lawrence Dickson had been found and would be coming home. Sadly, his wife passed away before all of this happened.
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We have all heard about the Tuskegee Airmen, about how, in a segregated Army, they were trained separate from their white comrades, but flew in combat missions throughout WWII. It is also known that, to the bomber crews who were constantly flying bombing missions over Nazi-occupied Europe, these Tuskegee Airmen, known as the Red Tails, because of the distinctive red paint that emblazoned the tails of their P-51s, were their most highly respected and desired fighter escorts.
Their flying skills and their fighting determination made them the most effective, honored and decorated fighter escorts of the war.
Captain Dickson was an honored member of this elite group of fighting men. They fought for this country despite the fact that it discriminated against them, even in their service to the nation. Their courage and their commitment to the United States, to each other, and to the cause of freedom, must be remembered and honored by all Americans.
In a profound and sacrificial way, these Tuskegee Airmen modeled the kind of personal character that belongs to those who understand the true meaning of freedom.
We at the Veterans Site are honored to remember the person and the valiant character of just one of those Tuskegee Airmen, Captain Lawrence Dickson.
We are happy to know that his name will be taken off of the MIA list. But we are proud knowing that his name will always be on one of the most honored lists of our WWII veterans. He was, and remains, a Tuskegee Airman.
Rest in Peace. Welcome home!
Dan Doyle is a husband, father, grandfather, Vietnam veteran, and retired professor of Humanities at Seattle University. He taught 13 years at the high school level and 22 years at the university level. He spends his time now babysitting his granddaughter. He is a poet and a blogger as well. Dan holds an AA degree in English Literature, a BA in Comparative Literature, and an MA in Theology, and writes regularly for The Veterans Site Blog.