Friday Service For Arizona Native, Tuskegee Airman George W. Biggs
The public is invited to a memorial service at the state Capitol on Friday for George Washington Biggs. The Nogales, Arizona, native who served in three wars, died Sept. 19 in Tucson at the age of 95. The National World War II Museum says Biggs was the last living Arizona native who was part of the famed Tuskegee Airmen.
Biggs’s service will take place at 9 a.m. at the World War II memorial at Wesley Bolin Memorial Plaza at 17th Avenue and Washington Street in Phoenix.
When he was just 16, Biggs tried to enlist in the U.S. Army Air Corps, a precursor to today’s Air Force. Turned away because of his age, Biggs reportedly did laundry at Fort Huachuca where his father was stationed until he was accepted at 18.
But full acceptance wouldn’t come for Biggs and other African Americans for decades. His daughter, Rose Biggs-Dickerson, told the Arizona Republic her father and other Black servicemen faced discrimination and said prisoners of war from enemy countries were treated better than them.
As a member of the Tuskegee Airmen, the first Black military aviators, Biggs trained for combat in World War II. He flew bombers in the Korean and Vietnam Wars.
Biggs-Dickerson told the Republic when President George W. Bush presented the Tuskegee Airmen with the Congressional Gold Medal they realized that they finally got the respect they deserved.
After retiring from the military, Biggs served as an agent for the U.S. Customs and Border Protection. According to an article by the National World War II Museum, Biggs’ service continued as commander of his local Veterans of Foreign Wars with an annual project to plant flags on the graves of veterans buried in Nogales City Cemetery on Memorial Day.