Documented Original Tuskegee Airmen George Henry Carper joined the Lonely Eagle Chapter on January 16, 2020. Mr. Carper was a civilian aircraft mechanic in the Army Air Force. A commendation letter stated that during his service from 18 February 1942 to 20 November 1945 “he has applied himself with much more diligence than actually required and has made a noteworthy contribution to the training of Negro combat pilots”. He served with the 2164th AAF Primary Flying School at Moton Field Tuskegee, Alabama. Those are just some of the facts.
I learned about the man by listening to him share stories of his time with the famed Tuskegee Airmen and women. Although he wanted to be a pilot, his expertise as a crew chief and a mechanic meant that the AAF limited his opportunity to fly. However, he later earned a student and private pilot license in 1945.
As a businessman he continued the family legacy by holding the position of president of Carper Casket Company from 1938 to 1960. His role cannot be minimized. I saw his influence recognized at a gala that honored him at a head table that spanned almost the entire ball room. He also worked as a freelance photographer.
He was active in community affairs. He served with the Airport Bond Commission and with the Mound City Youth Organization. In addition, he was the treasurer for the Gateway Boat Club, served on the board of Gateway National Bank and worked with the Boy Scouts. As an avid boater, he was the owner and captain of the river cruiser, “L’il Sue”. In fact, he operated a cruiser on the Mississippi River for more than 40 years.
In his later years he lived at the Missouri Veterans Home. He was always ready for a visitor, especially if that visitor brought him chocolate. It could have been a shake, ice cream, or Ensure. A visitor would hear stories about traveling the backroads of rural Alabama and encountering a farmer’s peach stand. He would share stories about when he was the sensible “designated” driver for his Airmen friends. Carper also shared experiences as a modified stock car racer and boater in the St. Louis Area.
He is survived by his daughters Carole Imelda and Jackie Johnson. And right now has rejoined his loving and devoted wife of 60 years Imelda Anderson Carper and his son George III. He is missed by the members of the Hugh J. White St. Louis Tuskegee Airmen Chapter and Tuskegee Airmen, Inc. who have been charged with continuing his legacy.