Sgt. John Flanagan was a young man when he went off to war in the 1940s. He died Saturday at the age of 96.
His grandson, Terrance Flanagan, believed he was the last of the Tuskegee Airmen in Fort Worth.
"He was very generous and open-hearted," Flanagan said of his grandfather. "It's totally a different generation. They were very dedicated in the things that they chose to do."
Sgt. Flanagan was part of the support crew of the 99th Squadron, the first black military aviators. They flew more than 1,500 missions and 15,500 combat sorties during World War II and helped pave the way to desegregate the military.
The latest news from around North Texas.
"Understanding the story behind the airmen, the country itself might be different without that," Flanagan explained. "So it makes me feel proud that he was a part of it."
"It allowed for a lot of us to do a lot of things we're doing now," said Flanagan, who also served his country, in the Marines. He said his grandfather had a motto: "If you push yourself and you set your mind to it, you can achieve it."
President George W. Bush awarded the Tuskegee Airmen the Congressional Medal of Honor in 2007. Flanagan was among those that visited the White House.
"What he strived to do was always perfection," his grandson said. "Whether that was something he grew up and learned, or whether that was something that was instilled in the Tuskegee Airmen ... I'm not sure, but that's how he lived."
The family said it was planning a funeral service for next week.