Tuskegee Airman John Lyle Dies at 98

From left, Lt. Dempsey W. Morgan, Lt. Carrol S. Woods, Lt. Robert H. Nelson Jr., Capt. Andrew D. Turner and Lt. Clarence D. Lester were pilots with the 332nd Fighter Group. The Airmen with the elite, all-black fighter group were better known as Tuskegee Airmen. (U.S. Air Force photo)
From left, Lt. Dempsey W. Morgan, Lt. Carrol S. Woods, Lt. Robert H. Nelson Jr., Capt. Andrew D. Turner and Lt. Clarence D. Lester were pilots with the 332nd Fighter Group. The Airmen with the elite, all-black fighter group were better known as Tuskegee Airmen. (U.S. Air Force photo)

CHICAGO — World War II African-American fighter pilot John Lyle, a Tuskegee Airman, is dead at age 98.

Lyle's wife, Eunice, says he died Saturday at his home on Chicago's South Side. He had been battling prostate cancer.

The members of the nation's first black fighter squadron won acclaim for their aerial prowess and bravery, despite a military that imposed segregation on its African American recruits while respecting the rights of German prisoners. In 2007, President George W. Bush and Congress bestowed the Congressional Gold Medal on members of the squadron.

Lyle, who named his plane "Natalie" after his first wife, was credited with shooting down a German Messerschmitt.

After the war, Lyle worked for the Chicago Park District and founded a tree-trimming company.

In addition to his wife, Lyle is survived by three step-children.

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