PEMBERTON TOWNSHIP, N.J. — Thomas H. Mayfield Jr., 95, one of the original Tuskegee Airmen and a retired special-education teacher in Pemberton Township, N.J., died Friday, Oct. 19, 2012 at Marcella Nursing and Rehab Center in Burlington, N.J.
A longtime resident of Willingboro, N.J., Mayfield achieved the rank of lieutenant colonel in the Army, serving in World War II, Korea, and Vietnam.
He earned special recognition as a member of the Tuskegee Airmen, a group selected for training in an Army Air Corps program that taught black men to fly and maintain aircraft at the racially segregated Tuskegee Army Air Field in Alabama in the early 1940s. He was a member of the ground support crew.
In 2007, Mayfield was among 300 Tuskegee Airmen who received the Congressional Gold Medal, the nation's highest civilian honor bestowed by Congress, for their bravery and dedication despite being segregated.
Mayfield was born July 24, 1917, in Shinnston, W.Va., the son of a coal miner and a domestic worker.
After graduating from high school, Mayfield attended Bluefield State College, in Bluefield, W.Va., on a football scholarship. He left in his junior year to join the Army.
In the 1940s he was selected to train as a Tuskegee Airman.
After serving in the European theater during World War II, Mayfield was stationed in the Azores and in Bermuda, where he met his wife, Barbara, who died in January. He also served at several posts throughout the United States.
Mayfield retired from the military in 1969 and the family moved to Willingboro, N.J.
He completed his bachelor's degree and later earned a master's degree from the University of Illinois, and an honorary doctorate from Richard Stockton State College in Galloway, N.J. He was a member of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc.
Mayfield taught wood shop to special-education students for 15 years. He retired in 1984.
He is survived by two daughters, Barbara Mayfield and Dorian Nixon, and three grandchildren.
Services were held on Oct. 26.