US Army


Honor Mission

Herbert C. Thorpe

US Army Air Forces
WW II Veteran
Original Tuskegee Airman

Rome, NY - 02/10/2024


Mission applies to the following Region(s):

Region 2, Region 3, Region 4, Region 5

About the Mission:

The family of Mr. Herbert Clifton Thorpe has requested Patriot Guard Riders participation in his funeral services.  Mr. Thorpe passed on Sunday, January 28, 2024 at the age of 101.

Born in Brooklyn, NY, Mr. Thorpe graduated from Alexander Hamilton High School and enrolled in the Civilian Conservation Corps.  He worked as a clerk typist in Van Etten and Camden, NY and as an automotive mechanic in Beltsville, MD.  He enlisted in the US Army Reserves in October of 1942, and in December enrolled in US Signal Corps School in Troy, NY.  The following June, he began basic Air Force training at Kearns Field near Salt Lake City, UT, and after completing training, he applied for and was accepted to cadet school. In early 1944, he took the Tuskegee Airman aptitude test, then went on to Tuskegee Institute in Alabama to begin the first phase of pilot training.

There, he along with other novice cadets, was taught to start the PT-17 single engine bi-planes manually by spinning the propeller, how to also take off, land and eventually fly solo during the first six weeks of training. At a time when there were no Black military pilots and all instructors were white, Herb excelled and was selected for navigator-bombardier training.

From Tuskegee, Mr. Thorpe was sent to gunnery school in Florida and then to bombardier-navigator school at Midland Airfield in Texas. He then returned to Tuskegee Army Airfield where he completed advanced flying training to operate multi-engine aircraft, qualifying him as a B-25 pilot. Herbert C. Thorpe was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant, Navigator Bombardier on December 30, 1944. 

After an honorable discharge in the summer of 1946, Mr. Thorpe returned to Brooklyn. He worked for the Veterans Administration and the US Postal Service before enrolling in New York University under the G.I. Bill. He earned his Bachelor of Electronic Engineering degree in 1953 and was employed at the Brooklyn Navy Yard.  In 1959, he moved from Brooklyn to work in the radar research department at Griffiss Air Force Base in Rome, NY. Mr. Thorpe retired from Griffiss in 1983, and a year later went to work as a part-time guidance counselor at Mohawk Valley Community College until 1996.  In July 2023, the Heritage Room on Griffiss Air Force Base in Rome, NY was dedicated in his name.

The above narrative was taken, in part, from Mr. Thorpe's extensive obituary.  In addition to his storied military service, Mr. Thorpe was very active in his local community.  You are encouraged to read his full obituary, available for viewing online by clicking here.

Primary Staging Date and Staging Time:

02/10/2024 at 10:45am

Staging Location:

First Presbyterian Church
108 West Court Street
Rome, NY

Lead Ride Captain and Contact Info:

Bruce R Dauer
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Special Covid-19 Mission Guidelines:

Updated 8 March 2022

Based on the most current COVID-19 Prevention Guidelines: Protect Yourself and Your Family from COVID-19, and CDC Guidelines of 3 March 2022, going forward, the Lead Ride Captain for any mission will be responsible for determining whether PGR members will have to mask up or not. Please ensure that you have a mask with you, should the need arise, and respect the LRC’s decision in these matters.

Special Information:

Members will stand a flag line and dignified transfer only.  Mr. Thorpe , Herbert will be laid to rest out of state.

Is there a Second Stage to this Mission?


Submitted by:

Bruce R Dauer

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

rs 02/06; MER



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