At 100, Charles McGee, a member of the Tuskegee Airmen is happy after adding another accomplishment to his lots.
McGee was recently promoted to Brigadier General after retiring from the service as a colonel.
McGee’s promotion in recognition of his 30 years’ military service comes after U.S. President Donald Trump signed the National Defense Authorization Act of 2020 into law on December 20.
The Tuskegee Airmen were the first African-American soldiers to successfully complete their training and enter the Army Air Corps (Army Air Forces). Almost 1000 aviators were produced as America’s first African-American military pilots.
In addition, more than 10,000 military and civilian African-American men and women served in a variety of support roles.
After graduating from flight school in Class 43-F on June 30, 1943, McGee, by the beginning of 1944, joined the pioneering all-black 332nd fighter group, 12th Air Force – flying P-39 Airacobras from a base near Naples, Italy.
A member of the renowned ‘Red Tails Squadron’, McGee protected the Eighth Air Force bombers, reported WUSA9.
He flew 136 missions over Nazi Europe while white pilots were sent home after 50 missions.
McGee also served in Korea and Vietnam following his service during WWII before retiring from the U.S. Air Force with the rank of Colonel.
“I hope I’m deserving,” McGee said.
“It’s wonderful to be recognized for service and what it means to serve,” McGee said. “Certainly to receive that honorary rank is very meaningful.”
Vincent Mickens, longtime friend of McGee, said he’s still getting used to calling him “General”, reported WUSA9.
McGee is said to be one of only four Tuskegee Airmen to achieve such a rank.
“It should be a great example,” Mickens said. “Stay focused on what you want to accomplish and you can accomplish truly anything.”
“Col. Charles McGee’s service to our country is remarkable and fully merits this distinguished honor,” Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) said.
“I was proud to fight for the inclusion of this promotion to commemorate his work and his sacrifice. This progress comes just days after Col. McGee’s 100th birthday, and I could not think of a more fitting recognition from a truly grateful nation.”
McGee celebrated his 100th birthday on December 7 with a flight in which he took the controls of a private jet.