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Tuskegee airman buried in Arlington National Cemetery

Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images

Jacqueline Weathers is presented with the U.S. flag that was draped over the casket of her husband, Air Force Lt. Col. Luke Weathers, Jr., one of the original Tuskegee airmen, during his burial ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery Jan. 20. A Congressional Gold Medal recipient, Weathers earned a Distinguished Flying Cross piloting P-51 and P-39 fighters while serving with the 332nd Fighter Group, a squadron known as the Red Tails, from 1942 to 1945.

Air Force

In 2004 a portrait of Luke Weathers Jr. was nade to honor his actions in World War II.

A Tuskegee airman who shot down two German fighter planes while escorting a damaged bomber to its base now lies in Arlington National Cemetery after a burial with special honors.

Luke Weathers Jr.'s burial comes as Hollywood is flooding U.S. theaters Friday with the action film "Red Tails," based on the Tuskegee Airmen and their struggles for equal treatment. They were the first black aviators in U.S. military history and are among World War II's most respected fighter squadrons.

Weathers died Oct. 15, 2011 in Tucson, Ariz. at 90, but he lived much of his life in Memphis, Tenn.

More than 900 Tuskegee Airmen were U.S. pilots and an estimated 250 to 300 are still alive today.

In March 1945, Toni Frissell, world renowned American photographer, took more than 280 photographs of the Tuskegee Airmen. During World War II, Frissell worked and volunteered her services to the American Red Cross, Eighth Army Air Force, and the Women's Air Corp. Her images of military women, African American fighter pilots and orphaned children were used to muster support for the military. Below is a collection of her photographs of the Tuskegee Airmen, and many more can be found on the library of Congress website.

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Toni Frissell via Library of Congress

Tuskegee airmen photographed by Toni Frissell in Ramitelli, Italy in March 1945. Front row: an unidentified airman, Jimmie D. Wheeler, Emile G. Clifton. Standing: Ronald W. Reeves, Hiram Mann, Joseph L.

Toni Frissell via Library of Congress

Marcellus G. Smith and Roscoe C. Brown in Ramitelli, Italy,March 1945.

Toni Frissell via Library of Congress

Walter M. "Mo" Downs and William S. "Bill Bubblehead" Price playing cards in Ramitelli, Italy, March 1945.

Toni Frissell via Library of Congress

A portrait of Tuskegee airman Edward M. Thomas in Ramitelli, Italy, March 1945.

Sixty-seven years later, members of the Tuskegee Airmen pose before the camera's lens again. This time, Associated Press photographer Carlo Allegri captures their portraits during a press junket for George Lucas's film.

Carlo Allegri / AP

Tuskegee airmen Floyd Carter Sr., Shade Lee and Dr. Roscoe Brown pose for portraits.

This kind of attention to the Tuskegee Airmen is what Weathers wanted throughout his life, said his daughter, Trina Weathers Boyce. He wasn't vain, but he wanted to share the lessons of the airmen's courage in war, their struggles for equality and their victory over a wartime enemy and over racism, she said.

-- The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Based on the true story of the Tuskegee Airmen, the first African-American pilots to fly in a combat air squadron during WWII. Opens Jan. 20.