Tuskegee Airman Charles McGee dead at 102

Charles McGee, one of the last surviving members of World War II’s Tuskegee Airmen, died Sunday, his family said. He was 102.

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McGee, a longtime resident of Bethesda, Maryland, who rose to brigadier general during his military career, was part of the all-Black military pilot group that served during World War II, according to the Tuskegee Airmen Scholarship Foundation website.

“He had his right hand over his heart and was smiling serenely,” his youngest daughter, Yvonne McGee, said in a family statement, according to WRC-TV.

“He was a wonderful human being,” the airman’s son, Ron McGee, said. “I feel proud and privileged to be called his son.”

According to the Tuskegee Airmen Scholarship Foundation website, McGee was a career officer in the U.S. Air Force for more than 30 years. He flew 409 combat missions during three wars -- World War II, the Korean War and the Vietnam War.

McGee’s plane was hit by enemy fire twice, WRC reported. It happened during the Korean conflict and over Laos during the Vietnam War, according to the television station. Both times, McGee’s plane was hit on its right wing.

According to online vital records, McGee was born in Cleveland on Dec. 7, 1919.

During his career, McGee received the Distinguished Flying Cross and the Bronze Star. As a member of the Tuskegee Airmen, McGee received the Congressional Gold Medal.

On Feb. 4, 2020, he was promoted from colonel to brigadier general. That same year, he flipped the coin before the Super Bowl and got a standing ovation from Congress during the State of the Union address.

“Brigadier general, I sometimes look back, it’s certainly an honor to receive it now. Would have loved to have served the country in that capacity,” McGee told WRC in 2020.

McGee celebrated his 100th birthday in 2019 co-piloting a Cirrus Vision jet, the television station reported.

“What a thrill where technology has taken us,” McGee said.

McGee is survived by his three children and several grandchildren, great-grandchildren and great-great-grandchildren, WRC reported.