Florida A&M University Honors Student Who Died Serving His Country as a Tuskegee Airman

Lt. James Polkinghorne, Jr. was a senior at Florida A&M University when he enlisted in the U.S. Army Air Corps. He was the first student from Florida A&M University to become a Tuskegee Airmen. He became a fighter pilot and squadron leader for the all-Black 332nd Fighter Group. During a combat mission over Italy on May 5, 1944, Lt. Polkinghorne’s plane was shot down. His body was never found.

Lt. Polkinghorne’s story is told in the recent book Lost in Heaven: The Story of 1st Lt. James R. Polkinghorne Jr., Usaaf, Early Black Aviation History and the Tuskegee Airmen by Leo F. Murphy.

Four years after he was shot down, Florida A&M Univerity named a new 170-unit housing complex for veterans on campus after Lt. Polkinghorne. This complex was demolished in 2011 to make room for a new 800-unit residence hall that was completed in 2014. The new residence hall was named FAMU Village.

Now, the university has renamed the new residence hall Lt. James Polkinghorne, Jr. Village. The dedication took place on November 8.

Related: Florida A&M University

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