Essential Pittsburgh
3:36 pm
Mon January 27, 2014

Remembering Wendell Freeland

A fighter plane, that was used by the Tuskegee Airmen during their efforts in World War II. Wendell Freeland was a bombardier for the Airmen.
A fighter plane, that was used by the Tuskegee Airmen during their efforts in World War II. Wendell Freeland was a bombardier for the Airmen.
Credit Heather McClain / 90.5 WESA

Pittsburgh attorney and pioneering civil rights leader Wendell Freeland died Friday, January 24 at age 88. Mr. Freeland was one of the legendary Tuskegee Airmen.

Essential Pittsburgh spoke with him in 2012 about his experiences in the segregated services during World War II and whether he questioned why he was fighting for a country where he was treated like a second-class citizen.

“My view was not defending the country, as much as it was defeating Hitler and Mussolini. I was thinking about my country as a country that was fighting against Nazism and Fascism  and all of the ills that have been visited by the world by these forces.”

Following his two years in the military he was back home fighting for something in his own country--civil rights.

Mr. Freeland “always wanted to become a lawyer” and his activity as an airman “was a bridge” from [his] childhood to [his] adulthood.”

He is survived by his wife Jane Young Freeland, son Michael Freeland and daughter Lisa Freeland.