SEATTLE (CNN) -- George Hickman Jr., a flight mechanic with the famed Tuskegee Airmen, has died, according to a spokeswoman for the group.
Hickman, who served in Europe during World War II, died this past weekend, Sandra Campbell, public relations officer for Tuskegee Airmen Inc., said.
Hickman, who was 88, died in Seattle this past weekend. University of Washington basketball coach Lorenzo Romar said he will miss Hickman, who worked for the Huskies' athletics' department.
"He was one of the most inspirational men that I have ever met," Romar tweeted. "Things will be a little different right before we go out on the court not being able to shake the hand of George Hickman."
Football coach Steve Sarkisian also tweeted about the man that the university's athletics department called an icon.
"He represented the UW and the Tuskegee Airmen with class. I will always appreciate how he treated my family," he said.
The Tuskegee Airmen, who earned a place in history as the first African-American pursuit pilots, protected U.S. bombers from enemy fire during missions over parts of Europe and North Africa. Their training program, first based at the historically black Tuskegee Institute in Alabama in 1941, eventually grew to include nearly 1,000 pilots and several air bases.