Charles E. McGee died peacefully in his sleep on January 16, 2022, at his Bethesda, Maryland home at the age of 102 years old. “He had his right hand over his heart and was smiling serenely” according to his youngest daughter Yvonne McGee. “He was a wonderful human being … I feel proud and privileged to be called his son, McGee’s son, Ron McGee said.
He was born in Cleveland, Ohio on December 7, 1919. McGee was among eight remaining Tuskegee Airmen combat pilots out of the 355 that was assigned to the 332nd Fighter Group during WWII in Europe. In addition, he flew combat missions in Korea and Vietnam accumulating a total of 6,308 flying hours and a record 409 fighter combat missions during his 30-year active-duty military career.
McGee was a torchbearer consistently emphasizing the significance and lasting legacy of the Tuskegee Airmen on the US military and American society. It was the Tuskegee Airmen he said, that “proved wrong those that believed Blacks were not able to master sophisticated equipment, that Blacks lacked courage, or that Blacks did not have the wherewithal to fight a determined enemy. It was the Tuskegee Airmen that ended up with a stellar WWII aviation war record and thereby edged the military toward integration and America away from segregation.”
On December 6, 2021, one day before his 102nd birthday, he was able to tour the 99th Flying Training Squadron at Joint Base San Antonio Randolph, Texas to see how the 99th Fighter Squadron, the first Tuskegee Airmen squadron, had evolved. He toured the art, photos, artifacts, the current-day aircraft, and current military aviation technologies. He mentioned “What a pleasure to be here and to be able to see what’s taking place,” McGee said. “I can just say, another blessing in my life, certainly, to be here to celebrate with you … and also to have a better understanding of what’s taking place now, when we look back at some of the pictures around the room and say, look at what 80 years have done for us.”