DETROIT (WWJ/AP) – A 94-year-old Detroit native has been awarded the Bronze Star Medal for heroic service and meritorious achievement during World War II.

Lt. Col. Alexander Jefferson was presented the award by U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow on Sunday at the 61st Annual Detroit NAACP Freedom Fund Dinner.

Stabenow says Jefferson is one of the few remaining Tuskegee Airmen still alive. It was the first African-American unit to fly combat airplanes in World War II.

In 1944, he was shot down on his 19th mission in Europe and taken prisoner by the Nazis. His prison camp was liberated in 1945, but he saw atrocities at the Dachau concentration camp.

In 2007, Jefferson and other Tuskegee Airmen received the Congressional Gold Medal – the nation’s highest civilian honor.

Former Secretary of State and Democratic presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton was the keynote speaker for the evening.

Chapter president Rev. Wendall Anthony calling the event one of the most symbolic demonstrations of social justice in our nation.

Hillary Clinton at NAACP dinner. (WWJ/Sandra McNeill)

Hillary Clinton at NAACP dinner. (WWJ/Sandra McNeill)

“We are facing in the city of Detroit, a public school system that deserves our care and our immediate concern that deserves to be promptly financed and governed and empowered restored by the local community as we face the city of Flint, largely of African Americans, where over 10,000 children have been poisoned by water filled with lead – by our government priding itself on efficiency but demonstrating irresponsibility,” said Anthony.

Rep. John Conyers told WWJ’s Jason Scott that, “we’ve got to keep our public schools in continuing, improving state of existence.”

 

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