EAST ORANGE, N.J. (CBSNewYork) – Marla Andrews was just a baby when her mother received this telegram: “Your husband Captain Lawrence E. Dickson has been reported missing in action.”
She only has one picture of herself sitting on her dad’s lap, reports CBS2’s Meg Baker.
“I was 15-months-old when the plane went down Dec. 23, 1944,” said Andrews.
Cpt. Dickson was a Tuskegee airman on his 68th mission over Austria. Andrews, now 76, recently got a first-hand account of what went wrong.
“My father’s plane had engine trouble, was able to start it back up twice, third didn’t work,” she said.
He was one of more than two dozen black fighter pilots who went missing in action during World War II.
On Friday morning, he was the first to be positively identified at the site where he crashed.
Andrews says she immediately felt relief that soon her father would be coming home.
“Something I never dreamt of,” she said. “I’m very happy about it.”
Black pilots were trained at the segregated Tuskegee army air field in Alabama.
“(He was) very personable, just as friendly with mechanics as was with pilots,” Andrews said.
Andrews says she is proud of her father’s sacrifice but frustrated that because of his skin color he could not stand alongside his fellow white pilots.
“In one way an (it was an) honor, but there shouldn’t have had to be a Tuskegee,” she said. “There should have been Army airforce united.”
She hopes to lay her father to rest at Arlington national cemetery.