When George A. Taylor first left his hometown of Middlesex, Va., and enlisted in the Army Air Forces to join the Tuskegee Airmen, he did not tell his neighbors and friends of his plans.

“He never told any of them because so many of the blacks were washed out during training,” said his wife, Joan. “He didn’t want them to know, so when he did get his wings, he went home and shocked everyone.”

He became one of the original members of a segregated Army Air Forces unit at the Tuskegee Army Flying School in Alabama during World War II.

That’s what the Chicago Tribune reported in 2008 shortly after Mr. Taylor, 88, died of prostate cancer in his home.

According to the Chicago Tribune, Mr. Taylor flew more than 50 missions with the 100th Fighter Squadron of the 332nd Fighter Group over Italy and was awarded two Bronze Stars, an Air Medal and four battle stars.

His family recently shared these photos with the Middlesex Museum so we could celebrate his legacy as one of our Homegrown Heroes.