Charles McGee of Bethesda, one of the last surviving members of the Tuskegee Airmen, has died at age 102, U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III posted on Twitter.
McGee was a veteran of World War II and the Korean and Vietnam wars.
During a State of the Union address in 2020, President Donald Trump announced that McGee had been promoted to brigadier general. McGee met with Trump in the Oval Office at the White House earlier that day.
“Today, we lost an American hero …,” Austin wrote in a tweet. “While I am saddened by his loss, I’m also incredibly grateful for his sacrifice, his legacy, and his character. Rest in peace, General.”
Today, we lost an American hero. Charles McGee, Brigadier General and one of the last surviving Tuskegee Airman, passed at the age of 102. While I am saddened by his loss, I’m also incredibly grateful for his sacrifice, his legacy, and his character. Rest in peace, General. pic.twitter.com/3GLNbfRHs7
— Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III (@SecDef) January 16, 2022
Besides the tribute by Trump in his State of the Union address, McGee was recognized for his service in many ways in recent years, particularly as he turned 100 years old.
He flew in a private jet round-trip from Frederick Municipal Airport to Dover Air Force Base in Delaware.
An aviation terminal in Kansas City was named in his honor.
A line of sneakers was created to honor him, with a design meant to resemble a P-51 Mustang fighter bomber that he flew. He was part of a Super Bowl coin toss.
The Tuskegee Airmen were “the first Black military aviators in the U.S. Army Air Corps (AAC), a precursor of the U.S. Air Force,” according to a summary posted on the History Channel website. They flew more than 15,000 individual sorties in Europe and North Africa during World War II, the summary says
A profile of McGee posted on The National WWII Museum website says he was a pilot in the 332nd Fighter Group and was deployed to Italy in 1944.
McGee “saw action both escorting heavy bombers on missions to Europe, and engaging enemy fighter aircraft,” the profile says.
“Charles McGee ended his service to his country having flown more combat missions in World War II, Korea, and Vietnam than any other Air Force pilot,” the profile says.
President George W. Bush presented McGee and other Tuskegee Airmen the Congressional Gold Medal in 2007.
In 2011, McGee was inducted into the National Aviation Hall of Fame.
With great sadness, Tuskegee Airmen Incorporated announces the loss of a monumental figure in our community, Brigadier General Charles McGee, one of the last surviving members of the Tuskegee Airmen. At age 102, General Charles McGee will be deeply missed in our community ?? pic.twitter.com/BQuf4EuspD
— Tuskegee Airmen, Inc (@TAINational) January 17, 2022
I’m incredibly sad to hear of the passing of #TuskegeeAirman Charles McGee. He was one of the last surviving Tuskegee Airmen and passed away in his sleep yesterday at the age of 102. A hero among us, we are thinking of you and your family. pic.twitter.com/oLXumgPcGi
— Gabe Albornoz (@GabeAlbornoz1) January 17, 2022
The Council extends its deepest condolences to Tuskegee airman General Charles McGee‘s family. He passed away peacefully today at his home in Bethesda at the age of 102. We are eternally grateful for his service in defense of our country. pic.twitter.com/qNCnVNiac6
— Montgomery Council (@MoCoCouncilMD) January 16, 2022
When Charles McGee was asked what he was most proud of, he said: “my work as a Tuskegee Airman that helped bring down racial barriers and defeat the Nazis.”
Rest in power General, and thank you. We’ve got the watch from here. https://t.co/eBBAtpdjTZ
— Mayor Eric Adams (@NYCMayor) January 17, 2022
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
We’re saddened by the loss of Brig. Gen. Charles McGee, a trailblazer who served as a Tuskegee Airman and flew 409 combat missions. Seen here in 2020, he encouraged the Artemis Generation to fly to new heights by applying to become an astronaut: pic.twitter.com/GBqgRBeNr5
— NASA (@NASA) January 16, 2022
We are sad to learn of the loss of our friend Brig. Gen. Charles McGee.
We have been lucky to know and work with General McGee as he shared with our visitors the role he played as a Tuskegee Airman, breaking racial barriers and helping to win World War II. pic.twitter.com/6PNfmLNsmA
— National Air and Space Museum (@airandspace) January 16, 2022
“Brig. Gen. Charles McGee was a trailblazer. One of the last surviving Tuskegee Airmen, his dedication to our nation has been an inspiration across generations. On behalf of the entire Department of the Air Force, my deepest condolences to his family & friends.” – SecAF Kendall https://t.co/G8Z8ngwawi
— Office of the Secretary of the Air Force (@SecAFOfficial) January 16, 2022
We sadly learned of the loss today of Tuskegee Airman Brigadier General Charles McGee
We honored the Tuskegee Airmen in 2019. These legends may leave our presence, but never our memory.
Council Video https://t.co/ZiG07L7ZPP (at 22:00)
Resolution https://t.co/c11lkEqzZI pic.twitter.com/vq7sOrOrzi
— Council of DC (@councilofdc) January 16, 2022