A final farewell to a war hero, civil rights activist and community leader.
Dabney Montgomery was a member of the famed Tuskegee Airmen in World War 2.
He later served as a bodyguard for Martin Luther King, Jr. in Dr. King's historic march in Alabama from Selma to Montgomery. Selma was Dabney Montgomery's hometown. He was born there in 1923. He passed away Saturday at the age of 93. Montgomery died of natural causes.
Thursday evening, hundreds said goodbye at the Mother African Methodist Zion Church in Harlem.
Organized in 1796, it is the oldest black church in the State of New York. Montgomery joined the church in 1955. He has served as Sunday School teacher, Director of Youth and Church Historian.
At his funeral service Thursday night, Montgomery was remembered for his life's commitment to serving his country and community.
Hon. W. Franc Perry said, "If public service is the rent you pay to live on earth then his rent was paid in full."
Judge Perry was one of Mr. Montgomery's many godchildren.
Montgomery leaves behind his beloved wife of 44 years, Amelia. They had no children of their own but he always referred to the youth of the church and community as his kids.
He spent the last decades of his life mentoring young people, telling them about his life and history.
Montgomery was one of the last surviving members of the Tuskegee Airmen, the group of 996 African-American military pilots who flew with distinction. Their nearly flawless record helped win World War II.
The "Red Tails" as they were known, were awarded the Congressional Gold Medal in 2007.
Even with all their achievements, the all-black units were subjected to racial discrimination in and out of the military.
Back at home, they faced segregation under the Jim Crow laws.
Once home, Montgomery strongly felt he needed to be a part of the civil rights movement. In 1965, he served as a bodyguard for Martin Luther King, Jr. during Dr. King's 50 plus mile march from Selma to Montgomery.
"He felt that was the time to go and make a stand no matter what the cost and no matter what the price, it was for humanity and equality of all people," his niece, Elaine Prewitt, told PIX11 News.
Montgomery removed the heels from the shoes he wore in the march and preserved them in a wooden shadowbox.
Montgomery recently donated the heels, along with the necktie he wore that day, to the National Museum of African-American History and Culture, which is scheduled to open on Sept. 24.
The man who eulogized him tonight says Montgomery was much more than a witness to history, he was a legend in the Harlem community.
"Well over 60 years he was part of this community. If a person has effectively delivered his eulogy when they lived you don't have to do it when they die," said The Rev. Malcolm J. Byrd.
Montgomery will be laid to rest tomorrow at Calverton National Cemetery in Calverton, NY.