DVIDS – News – Tuskegee Airman celebrates 102nd birthday at 12th FTW


Over the coming year, Joint Base San Antonio will host a number of events to celebrate the U.S. Air Force’s 75th anniversary, and as part of the celebration this week, the 12th Flight Training Wing assisted an airman from Tuskegee, the retired brigadier. General Charles E. McGee, celebrating his 102nd birthday.

McGee and several members of his family visited JBSA on December 6 and was treated to a heritage tour of the 99th Flying Training Squadron, where they also saw a T-1A Jayhawk aircraft on the nearby runway with its name painted on the side.

Lt. Col. Cory Henwood, commanding officer of the 99th FTS, expressed his gratitude and gratitude to McGee for his service and for allowing the 99th FTS to join him in the celebration, presenting McGee with a bottle of cola for honor the tradition of shooting down an enemy aircraft.

After the visit, the general answered questions from members of the media and the pilots of the 99th Flying Training Squadron, and spoke to them about his distinguished career.

The visiting group, which included three of McGee’s children, then toured a flight simulator facility where they participated in a training mission in a T-1A aircraft simulator. The tour ended with lunch, the presentation of a gift, a model T-7A Red Hawk airplane and a celebratory serenade by squadron members as a cake was laid in front of McGee.

The T-7 Red Hawk, the Air Force’s newest trainer aircraft, honors the tradition of the Tuskegee aviators and the P-51 Mustang “Red Tail” they, including McGee, flew in World War II.

McGee’s military career spanned nearly three decades, and due to his distinguished service and mentorship, he was promoted to Brigadier General at the age of 100. During his career he also received the Distinguished Flying Cross with two bunches of oak leaves and a Bronze Star Medal.

Born in Cleveland, Ohio on December 7, 1919, McGee flourished as a leader from an early age, becoming a distinguished Eagle Scout. He continued to lead throughout his military career after enlisting in the United States Army as a pilot on October 26, 1942.

McGee obtained his pilot’s wings on June 30, 1943. By February 1944, he was stationed in Italy with the 301st Fighter Squadron of the 332d Fighter Group, carrying out his first mission on Valentine’s Day.

During World War II, McGee flew the Bell P-39Q Airacobra, the Republic P-47D Thunderbolt and the North American P-51 Mustang, escorting Consolidated B-24 Liberator and Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress bombers over Germany, Austria and the Balkans. .

By the time he was promoted to captain, McGee had completed 137 combat missions. He returned to the United States in December 1944 and became an instructor for the North American B-25 Mitchell bombers, remaining at Tuskegee Army Air Field until 1946 when the base was closed.

After the war McGee was sent to Lockbourne Air Field in Columbus, Ohio, to become a base operations and training officer, then he was sent to an aircraft maintenance technical course and was assigned to a in-flight refueling unit.

When the Korean War began, McGee once again flew P-51 Mustangs in the 67th Fighter Bomber Squadron, completing 100 missions and being promoted to the rank of major.

He continued his service in the Defense Department’s new branch of aviation, the US Air Force, where he continued to serve as a fighter pilot.

During the Vietnam War, Lt. Col. McGee flew 172 combat missions in a McDonnell RF-4 photo reconnaissance aircraft. This completed his 30-year active duty career during which he racked up 409 combat combat missions.

McGee’s daughter, Yvonne McGee, was grateful to see her father revisit her military roots.

“It’s an honor for him, but I know when he travels he does it to represent everyone who can’t be here, and that’s why he always goes to 102,” she said. , noting that her father wishes to represent all of the Tuskegee Airmen and the history they represent. “There are so many of his comrades who are not able to do what he does, so he keeps showing up to represent them.”

Nearly 50 years after retiring from the military, McGee still takes pride in his military service and encourages the military today to do their best to protect and defend the nation, no matter what their profession.

“Eighty years ago I was in training,” he says. “On my first flight, I was hooked. I loved flying.

“For the Tuskegee aviators, the very first were mechanics, who had to fail, but they didn’t,” he said. This led to the Air Force building an airfield for pilot training, he said, admitting it is noted in the squadron’s history.

Col. Scott Rowe, 12th FTW Commander, expressed his gratitude to McGee for visiting the wing to celebrate his birthday.

“Brig accommodation. General McGee and his family on his 102nd birthday is a great honor for the 12th Flying Training Wing, ”he said. “We always talk about the importance of remembering our heritage and the pioneers that came before us – sharing your experiences with our pilots is truly an opportunity of a lifetime.

“With the Air Force’s 75th anniversary fast approaching, what better way to remember our foundation than to celebrate an aviator who broke down barriers and accelerated the changes we still see today,” a- he declared.

The U.S. Air Force will continue to celebrate the Tuskegee Airmen and many other incredible heroes of the service who helped secure the nation and the world during its 75th anniversary by September 18, 2022. Look for more events from anniversary of the Air Force. – to scale, as we commemorate – “Innovate, Accelerate, Thrive … the Air Force at 75.”

Date taken: 12.06.2021
Date posted: 06/12/2021 20:43
Story ID: 410569
Site: SAN ANTONIO, Texas, United States

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