Family mourning loss of 98-year-old Philadelphia Tuskegee Airman

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- A family in Philadelphia is mourning the loss of a Tuskegee Airman who put his life on the line during World War II.

Major Bertram Levy, 98, was a Tuskegee Airman - part of an elite, all-Black unit of WWII fighter pilots, now a dwindling generation of trailblazing African American men.

Levy passed away this week.

"Every Veterans Day including last year he was always honored somewhere locally," said Levy's daughter, Susan Levy Giles.

SEE ALSO: Vietnam veteran reunites with pen pals 50 years later: 'The kids got me through'
EMBED More News Videos

A Vietnam veteran from Norristown, Pennsylvania got to meet his pen pals 50 years after the letters were sent.

This year, the family is celebrating Levy's life and legacy without him.

"Him not to be here, and not to be able to say to him how proud we are, and to thank him, I think it deepens the sense of loss," she said.

Levy came a long way from his South Philadelphia neighborhood, receiving multiple awards including the Congressional Gold Medal in 2007 from President George Bush.

"Burt was one of the navigator bombardiers," said Dr. Eugene RIchardson, who is also a Tuskegee Airman and a friend of Levy's.

"Just hearing the guys are passing away, history is fleeting. It's pretty sad," he said.

Levy became one of the first Black commercial realtors in the city, president of the Pennsylvania Board of Realtors, and a founding member of the Philadelphia Federal Credit Union.

"He was a brilliant man. You name it, he knew it and he could do it," said Mike McAllister, a board member of the Philadelphia Federal Credit Union.

Almost 10 decades of breaking barriers and making a difference, Levy gave new meaning to the sky's the limit.
Copyright © 2021 WPVI-TV. All Rights Reserved.