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Lawrence Edward Roberts, born abt 1922
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Mary Lee Brady, Ph.D.












Lawrence Edward Roberts (December 9, 1922 – October 12, 2004) was a pilot with the Tuskegee Airmen and a colonel in the United States Air Force,[1] with 32 years of total military service.[2] He is the father of newscaster Robin René Roberts.[3]


Roberts was born on December 9, 1922 in Vauxhall, New Jersey.[2] He was married to Lucimarian Tolliver for 57 years. They had four children: Dorothy Roberts McEwen, Lawrence E. Roberts II, Sally-Ann Roberts Craft Nabonne, and Robin René Roberts.[3] He taught his children to live their lives without limitations.[4] Roberts was an active member of the First Presbyterian Church in Bay St. Louis, Mississippi,[5] former member and vice moderator of the General Assembly Council of the Presbyterian Church (USA), former member and Chairman of Council of the Presbytery of Mississippi, an Elder of the First Presbyterian Church (USA) in East St. Bay, member of the Board of Trustees, Leadership Gulf Coast, former member and Chairman of the Board of Trustees for Pass Christian School District, former member and Chairman of the Executive Board of the Mississippi School Boards Association, former member and Chairman of the Southern Region of the School Boards Association, and Director of the Genesis Foundation.[6]

Roberts attended Howard University, received his Bachelor of Science Degree from Morningside College, and received his master's degree from the Tuskegee Institute.[6]

[edit] Military service

Roberts entered the United States Army Air Corps as a Pre-Aviation Cadet Private at Keesler Field in 1943. He was assigned to the Tuskegee Airmen pilot training program in 1944. Roberts flew Piper Cubs, North American B-25 Mitchell bombers, Douglas C-54 Skymaster transports and North American F-86 Sabre fighter jets, and served in numerous flying, technical and command assignments. He performed duties as a jet fighter pilot in the Air Defense Command, a flight instructor at the fighter school at Williams Air Force Base, ground electronics officer in Canada, Japan, and Turkey,[5] Chief of Ground Communication-Electronics and Meteorological Maintenance for the Air Division headquarters, Department Chief for Ground Electronics and Officer Training at Keesler Air Force Base (AFB), Commander of NATO Communications, Organization and Chief Communications-Electronics and Logistics Advisor to the Vietnamese Air Force Headquarters and as Commander of the Maintenance and Supply Group at Keesler Air Force Base.[2] Roberts also served as an instructor in Tuskegee University's Air Force ROTC program from 1958 to 1960.[3]

He served in the Vietnam War and was awarded the Republic of Vietnam Air Force Distinguished Service Order Second Class award. Roberts received 18 service medals and awards: Legion of Merit with one oak leaf cluster, Joint Service and AF Commendation Medal, Air Force Outstanding Unit Award with Valor and two oak leaf clusters, Combat Readiness Medal, Good Conduct Medal, American Campaign Medal, World War II Victory Medal, Army of Occupation Medal, National Defense Service Medal with one bronze service star, Korean Service Medal with two bronze service stars, Vietnam Service Medal, Air Force Longevity Service award with one silver oak leaf cluster, Armed Forces Reserve Medal, United Nations Service Medal, Republic of Vietnam Campaign Medal, Distinguished Service Order and the Air Service Medal from the Republic of Vietnam.[2]

[edit] Later life

In 1975, Roberts retired after 32 years of service at the same base he was first assigned to in 1943, Keesler AFB. He chose the Mississippi Gulf Coast as his permanent home and for the next 29 years continued his active involvement with Keesler AFB and the surrounding community. His impact was so great that the only Mississippi chapter of the Tuskegee Airmen Club was named in his honor.[7] On October 12, 2004, Roberts died at his home in Biloxi, Mississippi, at the age of 81.[2] He was buried with full military honors.[8] Services were held at the Triangle Chapel at Keesler Air Force Base near Biloxi and buried at Biloxi National Cemetery.[5]

Since his passing, Roberts posthumously received awards throughout the country. In 2004, shortly after he passed away, the Mississippi Legislature drafted a resolution honoring his life and legacy and on March 29, 2007,[6] he posthumously received the highest civilian award bestowed by the federal legislature, the Congressional Gold Medal.[4][9] US president George W. Bush honored Roberts and other Tuskegee Airmen with the Congressional Gold Medal for their bravery, patriotism and the flying skills that helped persuade President Harry S. Truman to desegregate the armed forces.[2] In March 2009, a sculpture by Marlin Miller was dedicated in Warr Memorial Park in Pass Christian, Mississippi.[10] On September 10, 2009, a new consolidated aircraft maintenance facility for the 403rd Wing at Keesler AFB was dedicated and named in Robert's honor.[11][12]

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Last modified: 12/29/16