Tuskegee Airman Brig. Gen. Charles McGee dies at 102

Col. Charles E Mcgee Turns 100
Retired U.S. Air Force Col. Charles E. McGee engages the audience following a flight during an aviation weekend to celebrate his 100th birthday at the Fredrick Municipal Airport in Fredrick, Maryland, Dec. 6, 2019. Earning his Tuskegee Airman pilot wings in 1943, McGee has flown in 37 different aircraft including his infamous red-tail P-51 Mustang and has conducted 409 combat missions during WWII, Korea, and Vietnam. In September, McGee helped acting Secretary of the Air Force Matthew Donovan usher the newest Air Force advanced trainer aircraft at the Air Force Association's Air Space, and Cyber conference. The T-7A Red Hawk, trainer-jet honors the legacy of the Tuskegee Airmen and pays homage to their signature red-tailed aircraft from World War II. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. James Richardson)

(CNN) — Brig. Gen. Charles McGee, one of the last surviving Tuskegee Airmen, died Sunday morning in his sleep, according to a family spokesman. He was 102.

“McGee was a living legend known for his kind-hearted, and humble nature, who saw positivity at every turn,” the family said in the statement. “He spent the last half century inspiring future generations to pursue careers in aviation, but equally important, he encouraged others to be the best they could be, to follow their dreams, and to persevere through all challenges.”

Over the course of his historic career, McGee successfully completed 409 air combat missions across three wars, World War II, Korea, and Vietnam, serving a total of 30 years of active service. McGee has received numerous accolades throughout his career, including the Congressional Gold Medal in 2007 and the National Business Aviation Association’s Meritorious Service to Aviation Award in 2012. He was enshrined into the National Aviation Hall of Fame in 2011.

“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,” Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin said in a tweet remembering McGee.

McGee is survived by three children, 10 grandchildren, 14 great grandchildren, and one great-great grandchild.

“As the nation mourns, the family asks that we remember the importance and significance of the legacy he left, all of his fellow Tuskegee Airmen, and everyone who played a role in the support and protection of American democracy,” the family’s statement read.

The Tuskegee Airmen were the first Black military aviators in the US service corps.

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