LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- The Los Angeles Police Department paid a special tribute to a Tuskegee airman living in the Southland.
Officers doing a welfare check recently in the Vermont Square Park area discovered that the man they were checking on was retired Lt. Col. Otis Cowley, a Tuskegee airman in World War II.
On Thursday, the LAPD presented Cowley with its first ever "Heroes Among Us Award."
Cowley was overwhelmed with the recognition, saying "Thank you. I am so surprised. My heart is beating. It feels like I want to cry. Thank you!"
Cowley also served in the Korean and Vietnam wars, and then worked in the Department of Defense.
He's lived in Los Angeles since 1970.
The Tuskegee Airmen were a group of African-American pilots who fought in World War II at a time when the U.S. military was still racially segregated. They were the first black pilots to serve in the U.S. Armed Forces. Their name hails from their education at Tuskegee University near Tuskegee, Alabama.
More information about the Tuskegee Airmen is available here.
Tuskegee airman, WWII vet living in LA honored as a 'Hero Among Us'