Military Aviation

Legendary Tuskegee Airman who Flew a Record 409 Combat Missions in Three Wars Promoted to Brigadier General

Tuskegee Airman Charles McGee, who turned 100 on Dec. 7, 2019 was honorarily promoted from colonel to brigadier general in the 2020 defense policy bill.

Tuskegee Airman Charles McGee, who turned 100 on Dec. 7, 2019 was honorarily promoted from colonel to brigadier general in the 2020 defense policy bill.

On Feb. 4 President Donald Trump participated in the promotion pinning ceremony for the legendary Tuskegee Airman, in the Oval Office of the White House. 

According to Air Force Magazine McGee served three decades in uniform, launching his career in the U.S. Army Air Corps. McGee escorted bombers over Germany, Austria, and the Balkans in the P-39Q Airacobra, P-47D Thunderbolt, and the P-51 Mustang during World War II. During the Korean War, McGee flew the F-51 on 100 interdiction missions from Japan, and he flew an additional 173 reconnaissance missions in the RF-4C during Vietnam.

President Donald J. Trump participates in the promotion pinning ceremony for State of the Union Gallery guest and Tuskegee Airman, retired Brig. Gen. Charles McGee, Feb. 4, 2020, in the Oval Office of the White House.

Throughout his career, McGee flew a record 409 combat missions, more than any other pilot in the three wars.  

“I’d like to pass on what I call my four ‘P’s’ — perceive, prepare, perform, persevere — dream your dreams but get the good education to accomplish the desires and needs of the country,” he said. “Always seek excellence and always do your best in things that you do. Finally, don’t let the negative circumstances be an excuse for not achieving.”

After he retired in 1973, McGee has continued to leave his mark in history. In 2007, he was presented the Congressional Gold Medal by former president George W. Bush, and in 2011, he was enshrined in the National Aviation Hall of Fame. Then in 2019, the Tuskegee Airmen’s legacy was cemented in the naming of the T-7A training aircraft, the “Red Hawk,” in a tribute to the airplane they flew.

This print is available in multiple sizes from – CLICK HERE TO GET  YOURS. P-51C-10 Flown by Tuskagee Airmen Col. Charles E. McGee, 302nd FS, 332nd FG, Italy

“Incredible story. After more than 130 combat missions in World War II, he came back home to a country still struggling for civil rights and went on to serve America in Korea and Vietnam,” Trump said. He added, “Gen. McGee, our nation salutes you. Thank you, sir.”

Trump also offered a glimpse of future generations of airmen, touting the U.S. Space Force—the nation’s newest military service—and honoring McGee’s grandson, Iain Lanphier, an eighth grader in Arizona, who “aspires to go to the Air Force Academy” and one day work for the Space Force.

“Most people look up at space. Ian says, ‘I want to look down on the world.’”

This model is available in multiple sizes from AirModels – CLICK HERE TO GET YOURS.

Photo credit: Senior Airman Christopher Quail / U.S. Air Force and Shealah Craighead / Official White House Photo

Dario Leone

Dario Leone is an aviation, defense and military writer. He is the Founder and Editor of “The Aviation Geek Club” one of the world’s most read military aviation blogs. His writing has appeared in The National Interest and other news media. He has reported from Europe and flown Super Puma and Cougar helicopters with the Swiss Air Force.

View Comments

  • Best SOTU Address that introduced our New Brigadier General! Congratulation General McGee! Thank you for your service and your participation in The President of The United States State Of The Union Address and Speech! It was the Best SOTU I have heard in my lifetime. My self a Veteran and a Great Grandfather. Again, General McGee, Thank you very much! Aloha

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