Monrovia names original Tuskegee Airman Leroy Criss as Neighborhood Treasure honoree

MONROVIA, Calif. (KABC) -- In a big honor for a Southern California Tuskegee Airman, the city of Monrovia unveiled a special plaque to honor veteran Leroy Criss.

"We are so proud of him. We cannot believe they are putting a big plaque for my father, a Tuskegee airman," said daughter Renee Criss.

It is easy to see why the Criss family is so proud. Their dad passed away in 2008, but he had an amazing life, much of it focused on flying.

"On December 6th, 1943, he volunteered to serve in the United States Army Air Force," said City Historian Steve Baker. "At the end of his basic training he elected to become, and was selected to be, an air cadet in the all Black Air Force in Tuskegee, Alabama, thereby becoming one of the original Tuskegee Airmen."

After the war, Criss settled down in Monrovia. He got married and had kids. But flying was always part of his life and his families, too.

"I took dad flying once, in a small private airplane. And I don't know who was the most nervous, me for not wanting to screw up or dad for wondering how the heck I talked him into going into that plane with me to go flying," joked his son, Daniel.

In addition to working as an educator, Criss also served as co-director of Outward Bound Adventures, an organization that helps educate inner city kids.

For his volunteer work in the community and his service to his country ABC7 Salutes Leroy Criss.

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