The Passing of Tuskegee Airman James Bynum

Original Tuskegee Airman James Lee Bynum transitioned peacefully April 29, 2022, while under hospice care. Mr. Bynum was one of two remaining original Tuskegee Airmen residing in San Antonio.

James Lee Bynum

Mr. Bynum was born on a farm in Lexington County, South Carolina 6-Jan-1921 but grew up in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He was number seven among ten siblings. Mr. Bynum attended elementary and junior high school in North Philadelphia until the Murrell Dobbins Vocational School opened in 1937. Mr. Bynum excelled in patternmaking and began boxing in the amateur rising golden gloves ranks as a light heavyweight.

It was there that Mr. Bynum joined the Army in 1941. He joined the Army Engineers Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 95th Engineers Battalion at Fort Belvoir, Virginia.

His first major project was the 1,600-mile Alaskan Highway that passed through the rugged mountains of Canada in Spring 1942. Other projects included a D-Day training camp for invasion troops in South Wales and road repairs after battle damage.

After the war, he separated from the Army 3-Oct-1945. In less than 90 days, Mr. Bynum was back in uniform at Fort Meade, Maryland and then with the 332nd Fighter Group at Lockbourne, Ohio (the last home of the Tuskegee Airmen) in March 1946 under Colonel Benjamin O. Davis. Mr. Bynum was placed in charge of the single officer billeting office and unit inventory by then-Lieutenant Daniel “Chappie” James.

After three months at Lockbourne, he was reassigned to McChord Field, Washington as chief clerk, First sergeant, personnel clerk, and accounting clerk. Mr. Bynum’s various assignments in Washington, Japan, Vermont, Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) duties at Tennessee State University, Texas, and then the Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe (SHAPE) in Paris, France before a return to Texas, highlighted his 30-year military career, culminating in 1971 where he retired from Lackland Air Force Base, Texas as Base Postmaster at the rank of Senior Master Sergeant. He was awarded a commendation medal for outstanding work and the Meritorious Service Medal upon his retirement. He was also part of the unit known as the “Tuskegee Airmen” who were awarded the Congressional Gold Medal (CGM) in 2007 by President George W. Bush. He has a replica of the Gold Medal (the original is housed in the Smithsonian Museum in Washington, DC).

Since retiring, Mr. Bynum dedicated his time and efforts to a career in real estate before retiring again. He was also requested by name to speak about his military experiences and his time with the Tuskegee Airmen to audiences far and wide. He also enjoyed golf, traveling with his wife Dorothy, who proceeded him in death, and visiting with his stepdaughter Dolly Adams-Willis, family and friends.

Services for SMSgt (ret.) James L. Bynum are as follows:

Viewing Thursday, May 26, 2022 5:00-7:00 pm Castle Ridge Mortuary 8008 W. Military Dr. | San Antonio, TX 78227 (210) 645-6000

Funeral Service Friday, May 27, 2022 11:00 am Antioch Missionary Church 1001 N Walters St. | San Antonio, TX 78202

Interment Friday, May 27, 2022 2:00 pm Fort Sam Houston National Cemetery 1520 Harry Wurzbach Rd. | Fort Sam Houston, TX 78209