Sumter, SC (WLTX) – Saturday, friends, family and the Sumter community will bury an American Hero.
Leroy Bowman, 92, was one of the original Tuskegee Airmen that helped to break the color barrier in the military.
"He was a hero but he did not act like a hero. He did a lot for this country but he didn't talk about it; he just did it. When the nation called he answered the call and did what was asked of him," said George Bowman.
"I was proud, once I understood the magnitude of what he had done and more importantly when people began to understand it and appreciate it, I was proud," said James Bowman.
If you ask those who knew him, Leroy Bowman was a humble and funny person.
More than 70-years ago he joined the army as a Tuskegee Airman. That decision help change the face of the military.
"They achieved in spite of those odds, they overcame all of the adversity that they faced and they were not only able to graduate as pilots but they were also able to serve and serve with distinction as a unit," said George.
George and James are Bowman's sons. They said their father didn't talk much about his role in American history but he inspired them to join the military as well.
"We were at the funeral home today and I kept looking for his smile because his smile could light up a room. I miss that part and I can't ever get that back."
"After the Tuskegee Airmen then we had the integration of baseball, then we had the integration of American society, the integration of schools and I trace it all to the success of the Tuskegee Airmen because they prove that not only could they do the job and they did it with distinction and a flavor unknown."
Bowman was the recipient of the Congressional Gold Medal and his sons say they are grateful to have him as a father.
"I am proud to be the son of a Tuskegee Airmen and for a large part I am trying to live my career to make him proud of me for what I am trying to do and what I've tried to do," said George.