October 22, 2007, - 1:18 pm
By Debbie Schlussel
Why is it that I know about Soulja Boy and Akon and Snoop, but I never knew a thing about Major General Lucius Theus, who lived right in my own backyard?
Why is it that most Black Americans also never heard of Theus? As I live in a Black neighborhood, I asked some of my neighbors if they’d ever heard of him. They hadn’t.
Last week, this impressive man–who became one of the first Black Generals in the U.S. Air Force–died only a few miles from where I live. But, sadly, most of us only learned about this World War II vet/Tuskegee Airman from a couple of obits in the paper, Saturday. From the Detroit Free Press:
Retired Air Force Maj. Gen. Lucius Theus was a trailblazer in the Air Force and a catalyst for change in the military.
Gen. Theus was the first African-American combat support officer to be promoted to brigadier general and one of only three members of the African-American World War II 332nd Fighter Group, known as the Tuskegee Airmen, to receive that rank.
Gen. Theus died Monday, Oct. 15, 2007, in Providence Hospital in Southfield. He was 85.
He was the driving force of the Tuskegee Airmen National Historical Museum’s fundraising dinner and first winner of the Tuskegee Airmen National Historical Museum’s Major General Lucius Theus Award of Excellence.
Harry Stewart had known Gen. Theus since he was a recruit in 1943 and called his death “a loss for the nation.”
“He was not only the heart of the Detroit chapter of the Tuskegee Airmen and National Tuskegee Airmen, but the legs, arms and soul,” Stewart said. “He was helpful not only to me but other recruits that came into the service.”
Gen. Theus, a native of Madison County, Tenn., earned a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Maryland in 1956, a master’s degree in business administration from George Washington University in 1957, and was a 1969 graduate of the Harvard Advanced Management Program, Harvard University Graduate School of Business Administration.
He entered the Army Air Corps in December 1942. He attended the Army Administration School at Atlanta University and served in a variety of cadet and basic training squadrons at Keesler Field in Mississippi. . . . He retired in 1979.
His military decorations and awards include the Congressional Gold Medal, Distinguished Service Medal, Legion of Merit and the Bronze Star Medal. . . .
He will be buried in Arlington National Cemetery. Send memorial tributes to the Tuskegee Airmen National Museum, P.O. Box 32549, Detroit, MI 48232.
Sadly, Lucius Theus will not get the glory that drug pimp, gangster, and cold-blooded killer Frank Lucas gets in the silver-screen debut of “American Gangster” in a couple of weeks. And Denzel Washington will not be bragging about helping get Theus a house the way he did for Lucas–who spent too short a time in prison, just 8 years. Theus bought his own house, thank you. Will Denzel ever portray someone like Maj. Gen. Theus or Dr. John Withers on the silver screen? If he does, it won’t get the attention and the buzz “Gangster” is getting.
And we wonder why kids grow up to pursue the hip-hop life of drugs, crime, and loserdom. Thanks, Hollywood.
It may be “Hard Out Here For a Pimp,” as the Academy Award winning song goes. But It’s Anonymous Out Here for a Decent Role Model.
There are plenty out there. They just aren’t getting any attention.
Lucius Theus, Rest in Peace.
Tags: Air Corps, Air Force, Akon, American Gangster, Arlington National Cemetery, Army Administration School, Atlanta University, Brigadier General, combat support officer, Debbie Schlussel Why, Denzel Washington, Detroit, Detroit Free Press, Frank Lucas, Gen., General, George Washington University, Hard Out Here For a Pimp, Harry Stewart, Harvard, Harvard University Graduate School, John Withers, Legion of Merit and the Bronze Star Medal, Lucius Theus, Madison County, Maj. Gen., Major General, Maryland, Michigan, Mississippi, Providence Hospital, Soulja Boy, Tennessee, the Academy Award, the Detroit Free Press, Tuskegee Airmen National Historical Museum, Tuskegee Airmen National Museum, U.S. Air Force, University of Maryland