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Vacaville’s Warren, of famed Tuskegee Airmen, dead at 90

warren_tuskegee_12_26_12

Lt. Col. James Warren is shown at his home in Vacaville in 2012. Warren, a Tuskegee Airman, served in World War II, the Korean War and the Vietnam War. He died Saturday at the age of 90. (Robinson Kuntz/Daily Republic file)

By
From page A1 | May 21, 2014 |

VACAVILLE — Solano County lost a piece of history with the death Saturday of Tuskegee Airman and retired Air Force Lt. Col. James Warren.

Warren, 90, of Vacaville, died of complications due to cancer.

“He will be sorely missed,” said his son, Jim Warren, on Monday. “He was a person who did what he wanted to do, when he wanted to do it for the benefit of the Air Force and his community.”

The elder Warren served in three wars – World War II, Korea and Vietnam.

He enlisted in the military in 1943 and was assigned to the Tuskegee Army Air Force at Freeman Field in Indiana. He was eliminated from pilot training but entered navigator training and upon completing that he entered bombardier training, becoming qualified in two combat specialties.

The Tuskegee Airmen were a group of black aviators who fought in World War II, primarily in the 332nd Fighter Group and the 477th Bombardment Group. They were the first black aviators in the U.S. armed forces, helping break the color barrier in the military.

Warren trained with the 477th during World War II and went on to serve in the Air Force for 35 years, flying 173 combat missions in Korea and Vietnam.

While at Freeman Field in early 1945, Warren and other black officers were arrested for entering the segregated officers club in a protest for equality. They were charged with disobeying a superior officer. Warren went on to write a memoir about the protest, “The Freeman Field Mutiny.”

During and after Warren’s military career, he was awarded numerous medals that include the Congressional Gold Medal, which was presented to the Tuskegee Airmen by President George W. Bush in 2007.

Warren retired from the Air Force in 1978 and became involved in many endeavors, including the Young Eagles program at the Nut Tree Airport in Vacaville. The program encourages love of flight in youngsters.

“He was a very giving person, especially helping young men and women who wanted to learn to fly,” said his friend, Lloyd Tincher, on Monday. “I’m going to miss his energetic approach to helping the young people fly.”

In his mid-80s, Warren began to fulfill his own dream of learning to fly after first buying an airplane, a Beechcraft Skipper, in 2007, used to support the Young Eagles program.

Tincher and Robert Hertan were both his flight instructors while he learned to fly – finally acquiring his Federal Aviation Administration certificate when he was 87.

Hertan said it wasn’t an easy feat for Warren to complete his goal of learning to fly, but once he did both men had fun flying to various events together. Hertan said he was going to miss Warren’s enthusiasm toward aviation and his energy.

“I knew how much it meant to him to achieve a goal and keep flying,” Hertan said.

Warren also was an adviser for a couple of movies based on the Tuskegee Airmen, was a keynote speaker at a variety of events and attended both of President Barack Obama’s inaugurations.

“Col. Warren and his wife, Xanthia, were given an extraordinary privilege at the second inauguration parade,” said longtime friend and neighbor, Rochelle Stacey. “They watched the parade from the presidential viewing stand with President Obama, his family and other dignitaries.”

A week before he died, Warren was admitted to David Grant Medical Center. Hertan visited him in the hospital, both educating the nurses about Warren, and playing music for him.

Not just any music, though – a significant song from Warren’s Tuskegee days – “Straighten Up and Fly Right,” a Nat King Cole original, but Hertan played the version by The Andrews Sisters. It was a song, Hertan said, that Warren’s Tuskegee squadron played through their headsets as they flew through the skies. They rocked it with the planes rocking back and forth, Hertan said.

“It would have been fun to see on a newsreel,” he said.

A public viewing will take place from 6 to 8 p.m. May 30 at McCune Garden Chapel, 212 Main St., Vacaville. Visitation will take place at noon and the funeral at 1 p.m. May 31 at Bethany Lutheran Church, 621 S. Orchard Ave., Vacaville.

Future burial is planned for Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia.

Reach Susan Winlow at 427-6955 or [email protected] Follow her on Twitter at www.twitter.com/swinlowdr.

This version corrects the spelling of Lloyd Tincher’s last name.

LEAVE A COMMENT

Discussion | 16 comments

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  • Al Mendle and Jane LuickMay 19, 2014 - 9:47 pm

    Lt. Col. James Warren represented the best in so many ways. His love for his country, for young people and his penchant for correcting injustice was profoundly inspirational. He still soars.

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  • Tyler QuinnMay 20, 2014 - 1:33 am

    I first met Col. Warren at Duncan Miller's hangar in 2002 after my first solo in an airplane. In the past several years I have had the privilege of renting a space in his hangar at the Nut Tree Airport. He was truly a great American Hero. Tuskegee Airmen. WW2-Korean War- Vietnam War Veteran. His death is a great loss to us all. To the Daily Republic, the man quoted is LLoyd Tincher - not Pincher- another fantastic pilot and flight instructor, retired USAF Pilot, and mentor to many of us "kids" that went on to do very well in aviation and other walks of life. Col. Warren, along with Duncan Miller, Lloyd Tincher, Tim Athey, Cliff Kunkel, Jim Edwards and many others gave countless hours of mentorship and lessons to many of us "kids" in order to better our lives and lead us to where we are now. Col. Warren carried on with those lessons and mentorship until the very end.

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  • Sylvia HMay 20, 2014 - 5:29 am

    We had the pleasure of having this veteran soldier speak to the Armijo High School students back in 2007. His presentation inspired us to be the best we can despite the obstacles that are put in our path. To always move forward no matter what. He was a role model for both young and old and I am so glad I got a chance to meet him.

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  • Glen FaisonMay 20, 2014 - 11:06 am

    @Tyler Quinn: Thank you for the heads-up on the proper spelling of Lloyd Tincher's last name. It's been corrected.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • JBDragonMay 20, 2014 - 12:53 pm

    A true American Hero!

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  • FF64May 20, 2014 - 1:20 pm

    RIP Sir. And Thank You!

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  • rlw895May 20, 2014 - 1:40 pm

    Ditto. I wish I'd met him.

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  • Rich GiddensMay 20, 2014 - 2:56 pm

    The Tuskagee airmen and their leader, General Benjamin O. Davis were not treated very well right after World War 2. Let's remember that as we try to get Obama to address the growing VA scandal. ''It wasn't always right, and it wasn't always fair, but when freedom called, we (and not Clinton / Obama) were there!"

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  • Rischa SladeMay 20, 2014 - 3:01 pm

    He was a hero, and a friend. Every time I eat a pizza, I will think of him...he LOVED pizza and ice cream. He was a determined man and a force of nature. Those of us who were fortunate to have shared moments with him are forever affected. When you have, give back to the community. When you are respected, speak to youth, remind them that they have the ability to make miracles happen via hard work and dedication. You are flying with the Eagles, Jim. Miss you.

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  • Robert HertanMay 20, 2014 - 5:18 pm

    I enjoyed the challenge (with the dedication and hard work of three other Flight Instructors, Lloyd, Patrick and Hal), of getting an 87 year USAF Navigator to the point where I could sign him off for his FAA Private Pilot's check ride and say, "I taught a Tuskegee Airman to fly". It was an honor and a privilege to share flight time, and many other memories with the "The Colonel".

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  • JennyMay 20, 2014 - 6:56 pm

    We are thankful for the friendhip and contribution of Lt. Col. James Warren. We are so sorry for his loss for his family and our community. Duncan Miller and Family.

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  • TomMay 20, 2014 - 8:43 pm

    Thank you sir for your service. A man from a generation that gave so much and asked so little. RIP

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  • Laurie CheathamMay 20, 2014 - 10:39 pm

    I met Col. warren at an event at Solano Community College about this time last year. It the few moments we had to speak I was impressed with him. A true American hero.

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  • Anthony VelasquezMay 21, 2014 - 12:07 am

    Congratulations Colonel you graduated to that sky up high in the Lord’s kingdom. Thank you for all your service and the service of the rest of the Tuskegee airmen as well as every other member that served in the armed forces of United States of America. I have followed the story of these legendary airmen and what they endured just to fight to keep us safe, to do their part in providing a blanket of protection for us sleep under and for that we are in your debt. Thank you I salute you RIP.

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  • Rich GiddensMay 21, 2014 - 9:55 am

    THE DAILY REPUBLIC HASNT RUN A SINGLE ASSCOCIATED PRESS STORY ON THE GROWING VA SCANDAL DESPITE IT BEING COVERED ON CNN AND FOX.

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  • David AveryMay 23, 2014 - 10:15 pm

    Cadets from Fairfield High School JROTC were able to meet Lt Col Warren at the Mustang Days Airshow in 2012. One of the those Air Force JROTC Tuskegee Airmen International (TAI) ribbon recipients spoke with him for a while-- a great opportunity. Some of those same cadets were flying on Saturday 17 May 2014 at a Young Eagles event at Nut Tree Airport. The day of Col Warren's passing. His support for that program and all that he accomplished are an amazing legacy. He is an American hero who will be remembered fondly.

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