Tuskegee Airmen flight instructor Sherman Rose dies in Dothan at 88

Rose

It is with deep regret I must inform you of the passing on Wednesday, August 20, of our beloved Sherman T. Rose, an Original Tuskegee Airman Flight Instructor. He was 88.

Aviator, mentor, patriot; he was a beloved gentlemen who set high standards of excellence in his life as a flight instructor, citizen and friend.

Rose was a pioneering instructor in Primary Flight Training at Historic Moton Field in Tuskegee beginning in 1941 and lasting until the end of the war. He was among the first Negroes to be trained and graduate from the government Civilian Pilot Training (CPT) Program in 1940.

Rose helped inspire, motivate and train the remarkable young Americans who became the first Black Military Aviators in the history of the nation; the famed Tuskegee Airmen of WWII. Much of the success of the Airmen was due to the remarkable basic aviation foundation given them by Rose and the other dedicated instructors hired by Tuskegee Institute. This was a historic military contract with the U.S. Government and a Negro educational institution; it permitted Tuskegee Institute (now University), to spawn the Tuskegee Airmen..

After WWII, Sherman Rose was one of a key cadre of talented Black Tuskegee Airmen Flight Instructors who integrated Army Flight Training at his beloved Fort Rucker, Ala.

He not only trained fixed wing pilots at the post, but also became one of the best helicopter instructors in the U.S. Army. Many combat helicopter veterans of the Vietnam era who trained at Ft. Rucker have lauded Sherman as an instructor and aviator. It has always been easy to elicit a Sherman Rose aviation story.

A legendary aviator at Fort Rucker, Rose has been honored a number of times by the City of Dothan, Ala.

In 2001, a mural on the facade of one of the City's most historic downtown buildings was painted with a picture of Rose surrounded by a collage of key aviation associations and events in his life. He has contributed much to the fabric of the Dothan community. He has been lauded for his work with city leadership in obtaining a number federal development grants, including an industrial park.

Sherman Rose loved his family, aviation and life. He is remembered as being very active in his church and supporting patriotic events. He was a mentor to thousands of young aviators over his lifetime. During the years, Rose kept in touch with his good friend, C. Alfred Anderson, "Chief" Pilot of the Tuskegee Airmen at Moton Field.

He would often fly into Moton Field with his students. Annually, during the last two weeks of July, Moton Field would come alive with young minority flight students from across the nation. Rose would instruct in the NAI-Black Wings In Aviation Summer Flight Academy with other fellow Tuskegee Airmen Instructors.

Many of his former students are now captains with the nation's premier airlines or senior Military aviators who have served the nation well because of Rose.

The Annual Memorial Day NAI-Tuskegee Fly-In always found Sherman sitting on the front row in the hangar; holding court with his fellow Tuskegee Airmen and mentoring young aviators. He was obsessed with passing on his wealth of aviation knowledge to our youth.

Funeral services were held August 25, 2008 at Greater Beulah Baptist Church with the Rev. Brandon K. Marshall officiating. 

 In lieu of flowers memorial donations may be made to the Friends of Tuskegee Airmen National Historic Site, Inc., P.O. Box 831199, Tuskegee, AL, 36083-1199.

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