A Tuskegee airman flew to an Air Force base to celebrate his 100th birthday and got the hero's welcome he deserves
David Tulis / Associated Press
- Col. Charles McGee, a retired Air Force pilot and a member of the Tuskegee Airmen, celebrated his 100th birthday by piloting a private jet on Friday.
- McGee flew 409 combat missions in World War II, the Korean War, and Vietnam. He retired in 1973.
- On Friday, he flew to Dover Air Force Base, where he was greeted by 40 active-duty airmen.
- "To be able to get in the air and share with those who are serving today, I don't really have an answer, but this is one of life's blessings," McGee said.
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AdvertisementTuskegee Airmen, the first cadre of African-American pilots in the US military. According to Tuskegee University in Alabama, 1,000 African-American pilots graduated from the training program from 1941 to 1946, although they still lived in segregated housing while training.
AdvertisementMcGee himself flew 409 combat missions in three conflicts during his career - an Air Force record, according to National Aviation Hall of Fame, to which McGee was inducted in 2011.
Read on to learn more about Col. McGee.
McGee was born in Cleveland, Ohio, in 1919 and graduated flight school in 1943.
McGee is a highly decorated combat veteran.Advertisement
McGee also flew a private jet for his 99th birthday, alongside retired Airman Glenn Gonzalez.
While the Tuskegee Airmen were celebrated for their heroism during World War II, they came back to a country that was still segregated.Advertisement
Calderia said that McGee was flying on his own for most of the 20-minute trip.
This year, the Air Force named its new training jet in honor of McGee and the rest of the Tuskegee AirmenAdvertisement
McGee attributes his longevity to positive thinking.
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