Some people live lives of great purpose and meaning. Some make history as a result of one or more tumultuous events in their lives. Some do both. Retired Col. Charles E. McGee is one of those people.
McGee is one of the last remaining members of a very exclusive group of men who wrote a profoundly important chapter in the annals in American military and social history, the Tuskegee Airmen. Much is known now about this incredibly courageous and determined group of men. Movies have been made and books written about this now famous group of WWII pilots who faced the enemy in the skies over Europe with consummate courage and extraordinary flying skills, as well as the oppressive forces of discrimination both in the Army at that time and at home where segregation was still a matter of law in the south and of social construct in many other parts of the country.
They had to fight for everything, the right to serve, the right to fly and to fight. They did this with dignity, determination and patient endurance.
McGee and his fellow Tuskegee Airmen flew the P-47 and P-51 fighters as escorts for the massive bomber squadrons on missions throughout the war. They did this with such courage and skill that they were often expressly requested by the bomber crews who had to fly those dangerous bombing missions against German fighter planes. McGee flew over 400 combat missions over his 30 year career in the military from WWII until he retired.
Recently, on McGee’s 100th birthday, he co-piloted a state-of-the-art private business jet. This was made possible by Vincent Mickens, an executive of the Private Air Media Group, who met McGee for the first time in 2012.
But this was not McGee’s first rodeo.
Since he turned 99 he has flown or taxied a number of different aircraft around the country at various events. He is still as sharp and engaging as ever. He sees his mission as inspiring the new generations of aviators.
He says that it is, “so important and everything that we do is an inspiration for them in the right direction.”
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There is a video about McGees life and flying career accompanying this article. Col. Charles E. McGee at the noble age of 100 is still and impressive and inspiring gentleman. We should all have this man’s level of enthusiasm and commitment to others.
The Veterans Site sends its birthday greetings to Col. Charles E. McGee, along with our sincerest thanks for being an inspiration both as a military pilot and as a citizen in service to others. We honor you, sir. Thank you for all that you have done for all of us.
Dan Doyle is a husband, father, grandfather, Vietnam veteran, and retired professor of Humanities at Seattle University. He taught 13 years at the high school level and 22 years at the university level. He spends his time now babysitting his granddaughter. He is a poet and a blogger as well. Dan holds an AA degree in English Literature, a BA in Comparative Literature, and an MA in Theology, and writes regularly for The Veterans Site Blog.