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Tuskegee Airman Charles McGee flies west at 102

Brigadier General Charles McGee, a highly decorated and widely recognized aviator and one of the last surviving Tuskegee Airmen, passed away Sunday, January 16, at 102 years old.The Commemorative Air Force Red Tail Squadron reported the news in a Facebook post, with McGee's daughter, Yvonne, telling the organization that "her father flew West on his final flight in his sleep this morning." She said she found him with his hand on his heart and a smile on his face.One of the first African American pilots to serve in the United States Military, McGee flew with the Tuskegee Airmen in World War II. Over his 30 year military career, McGee flew 409 combat missions in World War II, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War. McGee flew aircraft like the P-47, P-51, and the RF-4, a photo-reconnaissance version of the F-4 Phantom.Praise for McGee has poured in from more than just the aviation community, including Lloyd J. Austin III, the Secretary of Defense, who called McGee an American hero.Vice President Kamala Harris shared a video from last month in which she called the Brigadier General to wish him a happy 102nd birthday.Today, we lost an American hero, Brigadier General Charles McGee. A member of the Tuskegee Airmen, he completed over 400 missions during World War II, Korea, and Vietnam. I had the honor of calling him last month on his 102nd birthday to thank him for his service to our nation. pic.twitter.com/p8MfrR1hQ3— Vice President Kamala Harris (@VP) January 17, 2022 In 2007, McGee, along with all of the Tuskegee Airmen, received the Congressional Gold Medal. He was inducted into the National Aviation Hall of Fame in 2011 and in February 2020 was promoted from colonel to brigadier general.McGee retired from the Air Force in 1973 and served as the director of the Kansas City Downtown Airport from 1980 to 1982, later serving on the city aviation department's Aviation Advisory Council.While Charles McGee kept busy after his retirement from the Air Force, he remained a vocal supporter for the Tuskegee Airmen and the Commemorative Air Force."Charles spent over 40 years relentlessly reaching out to young people to help them understand how they can overcome obstacles and achieve their full potential," said Doug Rozendaal, Leader of the Commemorative Air Force's Rise Above Squadron. "To that end, he was our biggest supporter and most valuable resource as we developed and executed the CAF Rise Above program."
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