XENIA — Charles Feaster never considered himself a hero but that’s how he was celebrated by the City of Xenia during Thursday’s council meeting.
Feaster, a Tuskegee Airman and longtime Xenia resident, died Jan. 12 at the age of 94. Council honored him with a resolution of appreciation with his wife of 65 years, Mae, family and friends in attendance.
The resolution, read word-for-word by Council President Mike Engle praised Feaster as a “revered Tuskegee Airman and a faithful servant to his community and church.” But words from Col. Ray Otto from the 88th Air Base Wing Reserves resonated the most in the packed council chambers.
“Mr. Feaster was a personal hero of mine,” Otto said.”He stood when he could have taken the easy road, he took the harder road.”
Otto told a story of when Feaster was on leave from the Tuskegee Institute, he had to walk back to the base and was fearful the whole time, presumably because of racial issues.
“And yet that’s the country he was going to defend,” Otto said. “He always said ‘well others had it rougher than I.’ He had it pretty rough.”
Part of the 99th Fighter Squadron, Feaster served in the Army from 1941-1945 and not only fought a war against U.S. enemies but also fought for racial justice and equality, which led to the desegregation of the U.S. Armed forces by President Harry S. Truman in 1948.
“The legacy that he provided us, the 99th Air Squadron gave to the Air Force … makes the air force what it is today,” Otto said. “We would not be the Air Force that we are today if if was not for his sacrifices and his team, he never let his team down and that shaped the Air Force and that won the war, World War II.”
Feaster left his mark on everyone he met and often spoke to classes and at other events about his experiences.
“He was one of the great people we brought out to the Civil Air Patrol to motivate the kids,” Otto said.
Otto said two kids who were failing in high school enlisted in the Air Force Reserves and went to summer school to improve their grades “thanks to (Feaster’s) influence.”
Feaster was also remembered as a man who took pride in his work.
“Excellence in what you do, it’s exactly what he breathed,” Otto said. “(Feaster) never went home until that aircraft was better than it could be.”
Contact Scott Halasz at 937-502-4507.