Col. Lawrence E. Roberts, one of the famed Tuskegee Airmen who helped desegregate the armed forces, was born Dec. 9, 1922, in Vauxhall, N.J., and died Oct. 12, 2004, at his Biloxi home.
In 2007, President George W. Bush honored Roberts and other Tuskegee Airmen with the Congressional Gold Medal, the legislature’s highest civilian award.
Roberts’ distinguished military career began when he entered the United States Army Air Corps as a Pre-Aviation Cadet Private at Keesler Field in Biloxi in 1943. He was assigned to the Tuskegee Airmen pilot program in 1944.
He also served in Vietnam and was awarded the Republic of Vietnam Air Force Distinguished Service Order Second Class award.
Roberts won a total of 18 service medals and awards during his 32 years of meritorious service to his country.
In the 1970s, there were very few African-American officers, but Roberts was one of the pioneers.
He retired from the military in 1975 at Keesler where his military career began. His impact was so great that the only Mississippi chapter of the Tuskegee Airmen Club was named in his honor at Keesler Air Force Base. The consolidated aircraft maintenance facility for the 403rd wing at Keesler was named in his honor in 2009.
Roberts attended Howard University, received his bachelor’s degree from Morningside College and earned his master’s degree from the Tuskegee Institute.
He was married to Lucimarian Tolliver Roberts for 57 years and they had four children.