Charles McGee, a Tuskegee Airman who flew 409 fighter combat missions over three wars, and later helped to bring attention to the black pilots who had battled racism at home to fight for freedom abroad, died on Sunday. He was 102.
McGee died in his sleep at his home in Bethesda, Maryland, said his son, Ron McGee.
After the US’ entry into World War II, McGee left the University of Illinois to join an experimental program for black soldiers seeking to train as pilots.
In October 1942, he was sent to the Tuskegee Army Air Field in Alabama for flight training, his biography on the Web site of the National Aviation Hall of Fame says.
“You could say that one of the things we were fighting for was equality,” he told The Associated Press in a 1995 interview. “Equality of opportunity. We knew we had the same skills, or better.”
McGee graduated from flight school in June 1943, and in early 1944, joined the all-black 332nd Fighter Group, known as the “Red Tails.” He flew 136 missions as the group accompanied bombers over Europe.
More than 900 men trained at Tuskegee from 1940 to 1946. About 450 deployed overseas and 150 lost their lives in training or combat.
In the past few years, the Tuskegee Airmen have been the subject of books, movies and documentaries highlighting their courage in the air and the doubts they faced on the ground because of their race.
In 2007, a Congressional Gold Medal, the highest civilian award from the US Congress, was issued to recognize their “unique military record that inspired revolutionary reform in the Armed Forces.”
McGee remained in the Army Air Corps, later the US Air Force, for 30 years. He flew low-level bombing and strafing missions during the Korean War and returned to combat again during the Vietnam War.
The National Aviation Hall of Fame says his 409 aerial fighter combat missions in three wars remains a record.
He retired as a colonel in the air force in 1973, then earned a college degree in business administration and worked as a business executive.
He was accorded an honorary commission, promoting him to the one-star rank of brigadier general as he turned 100.
Another event marked his centennial year: He flew a private jet between Frederick, Maryland, and Dover Air Force Base in Delaware.
In addition to encouraging young men and women to pursue careers in aviation, McGee offered a unique perspective on race relations of the era through the airmen’s nonprofit educational organization.
“At the time of the war, the idea of an all African American flight squadron was radical and offensive to many,” McGee wrote in an essay for the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum.
“The prevailing opinion was that blacks did not possess the intelligence or courage to be military pilots. One general even wrote: ‘The Negro type has not the proper reflexes to make a first-rate fighter pilot.’ The Tuskegee Airmen certainly proved men like him wrong,” he wrote.
The images of a besuited Ferdinand Marcos Jr, clad in a top hat and leaning nonchalantly on a Rolls-Royce, dating from his time in Britain in the 1970s, are as you might expect from the playboy scion of a kleptocratic dictator. Yet as the Marcos family returns to power in the Philippines after a landslide presidential victory by Marcos Jr, he is facing calls to stop misrepresenting the circumstances of his studies at the University of Oxford. The university has confirmed that he did not complete his degree in philosophy, politics and economics after enrolling in 1975. “According to our records, he did
CALIBRATED RESPONSE: The city-state has learned from its past experiences of dealing with COVID-19 variants to assess the situation and the risks, the transport minister said Singapore will strive to keep its borders open and stay connected to the rest of world even if a new variant of COVID-19 emerges, Singaporean Minister for Transport S. Iswaran said on Wednesday. The city-state has learned from its past experiences of dealing with COVID-19 variants, Iswaran said in an interview with Bloomberg News. When the Omicron variant of SARS-CoV-2 hit, Singapore did not backtrack on its reopening plans, but rather decided to wait and see how things panned out, he said, adding that the response was different versus the Delta outbreak. “We’ve all learned to adapt,” Iswaran said on the sidelines
Administrators at an elite Beijing university have backed down from plans to further tighten restrictions on students as part of China’s “zero COVID-19” strategy after a weekend protest at the school, students said on Tuesday. Graduate students at Peking University staged the protest on Sunday over the school’s decision to erect a sheet-metal wall to keep them further sequestered on campus, while allowing faculty to come and go freely. Discontent had already been simmering over regulations prohibiting them from ordering in food or having visitors, and daily COVID-19 testing. A citywide lockdown of Shanghai and expanded restrictions in Beijing in the past few
BUSINESS AS USUAL: Thousands of people were forcibly removed from their homes in the dead of night and all mentions of the incident were scrubbed from the Internet Thousands of COVID-19-negative Beijing residents were forcibly relocated to quarantine hotels overnight due to a handful of infections, as the Chinese capital begins to take more extreme control measures resembling virus-hit Shanghai. Beijing has been battling its worst outbreak since the COVID-19 pandemic started. The Omicron variant of SARS-CoV-2 has infected more than 1,300 since late last month, leading city restaurants, schools and tourist attractions to be closed indefinitely. China’s strategy to achieve zero COVID-19 cases includes strict border closures, lengthy quarantines, mass testing and rapid, targeted lockdowns. More than 13,000 residents of the locked-down Nanxinyuan residential compound in southeast Beijing were