Tuskegee Airman James Cotten dies at 93

Julia LeDoux
August 26, 2020 - 8:23 am
Cotten

United States Air Force

A member of the famed Tuskegee Airmen has died. 

James A. Cotten died on Aug. 14, according to the New Jersey Globe. He was 93.

Cotten spent 21 years in the U.S. Air Force before beginning a 45-year career as a contract administrator for the U.S. Department of Defense at Joint Base McGuire-Dix. He retired in 2012 at age 85, the Globe reported.

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“We were really doing something in the interest of the nation,” Cotton said in 2017 interview with the paper. “We were considered to be elite personnel. We were taught every day that this was another day to excel.”

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy called Cotten an “American patriot” in a tweet.

“We were really doing something in the interest of the nation,” Cotten said in an interview with the 633rd Air Base Wing Public Affairs office in 2017. “We were considered to be elite personnel. We were taught every day that this was another day to excel.”

Cotten was presented with the Congressional Gold Medal in 2012 for his service with the Tuskegee Airmen. In 2013, he was one of six veterans present when President Barack Obama paid tribute to the famed unit, according to his obituary.

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Cotten joined the elite, all-Black Air Force unit in 1945, after he turned 18, according to his obituary. In 1949, he was assigned to the 334th Fighter Interceptor Squadron 4th Fighter Group as the Air Operations non-commissioned officer.

“If I was in another organization, I might not have been able to climb the ladder like I was able to,” Cotten told Air Force Public Affairs. “It’s because I listened, I became educated and I feel as though as a result of that I had some really good moments in the military.”

Cotten is survived by his wife of 73 years, Oteria, 10 children, 15 grandchildren, 21 great-grandchildren, and two great-great-grandchildren. 

Reach Julia LeDoux at Julia@connectingvets.com

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