ATLANTA — A member of the famed Tuskegee Airmen with ties to Atlanta - and to a storied life - has died, the spokesperson for a local organization said on Saturday evening.
The Atlanta Chapter of Tuskegee Airmen confirmed in a release that Rudolph 'Val' Archer, who had been documented as an original member of the famed 332nd Fighter Group and 100th Fighter Squadron spanning World War II, Korea and Vietnam.
The organization said Archer's historic journey began when he was just 15 years old when he attempted to enlist in the Marine Corps and Navy but was unable to join because of his age.
"We wanted to get in the war," he said in an interview with Public Broadcasting of Atlanta. "That's what 15-year-olds, at that time, I think we may have been a little bit more gung-ho than the guys who were 18 and 20."
He and a friend were soon accepted into the U.S. Army. Within hours they received their uniforms in Fort Sheridan, Illinois. Archer completed basic training in Wichita Falls, Teas and attended technical training at Geiger Field in Spokane, Washington and Chanute Field Illinois.
He was soon assigned to the Black aviation organization that would later be known as the Tuskegee Airmen at Lockbourne Air Base in Columbus, Ohio.
"It struck me immediately, when I reported into this base, that these guys, starting with the MPs at the gate, were really sharp - they were dressed sharp, their presentation was good, " he said in the PBS interview. "And then I saw the first Black officer and so I had no idea at that time all the officers were black and everybody else was as well."
Archer was an instrument specialist on the P-47 and C-47 aircraft and later a crew chief. His career spanned three wars and eventually included time as an instructor for TITAN I Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (ICBM) Squadrons.
"I'm proud of the legacy that we have," Archer told the Montgomery Advertiser in 2016. "A lot of us came from all over, Tuskegee Airmen, we had people who came off of farms and those who came out of cities, but what came out of that experience had an impact on our whole culture at that time, largely because of the success that we had and what that meant for other opportunities."
Funeral arrangements have not been released yet. The Atlanta Chapter Tuskegee Airmen is accepting sympathy cards and condolences at:
ACTAI: DOTA Val Archer Memory
P.O. Box 161824
Atlanta, Georgia 30321