Charles McGee, American Hero and Highly-Decorated Tuskegee Flyer, Dies at 102

Charles McGee, a 102-year-old Tuskegee airman, died Sunday at his Maryland home.

He flew 409 fighter combat missions during World War II. 

Charles Edward McGee, who was born December 7, 1919 in Cleveland, Ohio, graduated high school in 1938.

In October 1942, he left his post as a student at the University of Illinois and went to the Tuskegee Army Airfield in Alabama for flight training.

He said that he and his Black airmen knew that they were fighting for the same cause as their white counterparts. “Equality of opportunity,”He said. “We knew we had the same skills, or better.”

McGee joined The Red Tails’ all-Black 332nd fighter unit in June 1943 and January 1944. As a member of the group that accompanied bombers in Europe, McGee flew 136 missions.

Between 1940 and 1946, Tuskegee hosted over 900 soldiers. Over 450 of these men were deployed overseas while 150 died fighting for their country.

McGee served 30 years in the Army Air Corps and later in the U.S. Air Force. 

According to the National Aviation Hall of Fame, his record-breaking 409 combat missions with aerial fighters in three wars is still an outstanding record.

He retired as a colonel in the Air Force in 1973 before earning a college degree in business administration and working as an executive.

In 2007, he received the Congressional Gold Medal.

McGee received an honorary commission to mark his 100th birthday and was promoted one-star to the rank of brigadier général. McGee was also sent a special birthday message by Vice President Kamala Harris during the holidays.

Charles McGee was 101 years old.

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