LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — More than a dozen veterans were honored at Prestige Assisted Living in Mira Loma on Wednesday. Among them was one of the first Black pilots to fly solo from the U.S. to Korea.

Lieutenant Colonel Lester McCants was one of the first 100 pilots chosen to train with the First Tuskegee Airmen during World War II. The First Tuskegee Airmen were the first Black aviators in the U.S. Armed Forces.

Lt. Col. McCants has received numerous awards from the U.S. Government including a personalized note from President Obama. However, the March 29 ceremony was a surprise.

“Exceedingly surprised to have this happen I didn’t know what was going on with the girls have been pushing me from one place to the other and I thought something was wrong,” McCants laughed and told 8 News Now. “Happy to be here to meet friends and receive the accolades it’s really outstanding.”

Each veteran at the ceremony received a certificate, a pin, and an American flag to thank them for their service. A Veterans Service Officer was also on hand to ensure each veteran had access to all the benefits they earned from their military service. Those benefits include disability compensation and pensions for those who qualify for additional income.

Lieutenant Colonel McCants turns 103 years old in the summer.