Marla Andrews was 2 years old when her father died serving his country. Capt. Lawrence Dickson’s plane crashed over Austria in December of 1944. He was one of 27 Tuskegee Airmen, the legendary all-black pilot group who have never been found.
Dickson’s wife — Marla Andrews’ mother — wrote to the military, looking for answers. But for more than 70 years they didn’t hear anything.
“I think like most people, the fact that you can’t find out what you want to know immediately makes you crazy,” Andrews said.
Last summer, there was a breakthrough. Andrews got a call from the Pentagon, and they needed her help.
A researcher discovered eyewitness reports from around the time of the crash with enough clues to point investigators to a site where they found wreckage matching Dickson’s plane, along with artifacts and bone fragments. They asked Andrews for a DNA sample and found it was a match.
“Little things surprise me. Like, when they found the artifacts, among them were part of a harmonica. And it made me laugh. This guy was the bomb. He couldn’t take his electric guitar with him in the plane, he took his harmonica. How smart is that?” Andrews said.
They also found his ring.
“This one has the initials of my mother and my father and a heart in the middle with an arrow. How romantic is that?” Andrews said.
Today, she continues to honor her father by keeping his legacy alive for her children — his grandchildren.
“I’m his representative and his protector,” Andrews said. “The children when they got older would know that they had somebody in the family who had functioned in a very honorable way.”
“I think he’d be proud that his legacy went beyond me.”