NEW YORK – Dabney Montgomery, who served with the all-black Tuskegee Airmen in World War II and marched with civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr., has died. He was 93.
His wife, Amelia Montgomery, said he died of natural causes Saturday morning at a Manhattan hospice care facility. He had lived in Harlem until he entered the facility Aug. 25. Montgomery was born in in Selma, Alabama, in 1923 and was inducted into the armed forces in 1943.
He served as a ground crewman with the Tuskegee Airmen in southern Italy during the war.
He attended Livingstone College in North Carolina on the GI bill and later moved to New York to find work. Montgomery was active in the civil rights movement, serving as a bodyguard to King during the famous 1965 Selma to Montgomery march.
Amelia Montgomery said the heels of the shoes and the tie her husband wore on the Selma march will be part of the permanent collection at the new National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, D.C. , when it opens on Sept. 24.
Montgomery was awarded the Congressional Gold Medal in 2007 after President George W. Bush signed a law awarding the distinction to all original Tuskegee Airmen. He worked for the New York City Housing Authority and as a volunteer outreach worker for a nonprofit that assists the elderly. Montgomery remained active until his final weeks, frequently visiting schools to talk to children about his experiences growing up in Alabama, serving in the war and marching for civil rights.
“He just loved motivating young people to be somebody,” Amelia Montgomery said. “That was his joy.”