CHARLOTTE, N.C. (QUEEN CITY NEWS) — The journey home has been 79 years in the making for Charlotte native Fred Brewer, who vanished during a mission in World War 2 which would’ve seen him help U.S. bombers hit their targets over Germany.

At 23 years old, the second lieutenant had solidified himself as a member of the legendary and prestigious Tuskegee Airman, a group made up of entirely black pilots.

Per the official record from DPAA, Second Lt. Fred Brewer crashed while on a mission to escort bombers to their target sites over Germany.

The Tuskegee Airman tried to climb over a burst of heavy clouds, but his plane stalled out and plummeted to Earth.

“He went to war, and he never came back,” explained Brenda Brewer, one of the last surviving cousins of Second Lt. Brewer. “This tore my family up.”

Brewer still lives in Charlotte, N.C., and spoke with Queen City News on Tuesday afternoon.

While she did not know her cousin personally (she said she was born in the wrong generation), she grew up hearing stories of his greatness through other family members.

“He was just an amazing person. He was a very nice guy, and he wanted to serve. He wanted to serve his country,” she explained.

The military itself could not recover his remains but officially notified his family of his death shortly after the crash.

The news, which Branda explained, “killed” his mother, who died of what is described as a broken heart before her 50th birthday.

About a decade ago, Branda received a call that the DPAA had begun to run genetic testing of possible remains that had been buried in a soldier cemetery in Florence, Italy, labeled X-125 Mirandola.

The only problem, to Branda’s knowledge, is that a male family member needed to be tested, but they had all passed away.

However, she credits hard work and persistence through the DPAA and Genealogist Jana Churchwell Scott for leading to the news her family received in 2024.

“She had two hands in this from the beginning… she found a family member, a cousin, we didn’t even know existed. They were able to identify the remains as Fred,” Brenda explained.

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The remains of X-125 Mirandola in Italy were exhumed and tested, leading to a perfect match of Second Lt. Fred Brewer.

“This has been my life’s mission,” she explained. “He is no longer X-125 who came up out that grave in Florence, Italy. He is Fred Brewer, Second Lieutenant.”

His family has begun to decide when and where he will be buried at home.