Brig. Gen. Charles Edward McGee, one of many final surviving Tuskegee Airmen, has died. He was 102 years previous.
McGee, a legendary aviator, was promoted to brigadier common in February 2020, simply weeks after he turned 100.
Protection Secretary Lloyd Austin tweeted a tribute to McGee, calling him an American hero, and saying he’s grateful for McGee’s sacrifice, legacy, and character.
At present, we misplaced an American hero. Charles McGee, Brigadier Normal and one of many final surviving Tuskegee Airman, handed on the age of 102. Whereas I’m saddened by his loss, I am additionally extremely grateful for his sacrifice, his legacy, and his character. Relaxation in peace, Normal. pic.twitter.com/3GLNbfRHs7
— Secretary of Protection Lloyd J. Austin III (@SecDef) January 16, 2022
After incomes his pilot’s wings on June 30, 1943, McGee grew to become one in every of America’s first Black fighter pilots as a part of the Tuskegee Airmen. In a time of segregation, McGee and his comrades within the 322nd Fighter Group proved Black folks may very well be extraordinary pilots too. Tuskegee Airmen flew P-51 Mustang fighters, escorting bombers throughout Europe throughout World Battle II. The jets had been painted with distinctive pink tails, incomes pilots the nickname “Pink Tails.” They helped pave the way in which for the army to desegregate after the struggle ended.
McGee flew 409 fight missions over three wars between 1944 and 1968 — WWII, Korean Battle, and Vietnam Battle. His decorations embody the Distinguished Flying Cross, the Legion of Benefit, the Bronze Star, the Air Medal and the Presidential Unit Quotation.
McGee retired in 1973. In 2007, former President George W. Bush introduced the Tuskegee Airmen the Congressional Gold Medal. A couple of years later in 2011, McGee was enshrined within the Nationwide Aviation Corridor of Fame. The Tuskegee Airmen’s legacy will proceed with the brand new T-7A coaching plane, nicknamed the “Pink Hawk,” in a tribute to the planes they flew.
When he turned 100, he credited his lengthy life to constructive considering. He celebrated by flying a non-public jet from Frederick, Maryland, to Dover Air Pressure Base in Delaware. He additionally participated within the coin toss on the Tremendous Bowl in Miami, together with three different centenarian veterans.
Initially printed by Navy Occasions, our sister publication.