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Col. Charles McGee, Tuskegee Airman

Col. Charles McGee '78, USAF (retired) was a Tuskegee Airman, a select group of black World War II fighter pilots who broke stereotypes. They were the first black men to fly in combat when blacks were generally thought fit only for menial chores; their fighters escorted American bombers over the hostile skies of Europe. Their sterling record helped persuade President Harry S Truman to integrate the armed forces after the war.

In his extraordinarily long career, McGee also commanded a fighter squadron in the Philippines, a reconnaissance squadron at now-defunct Richards-Gebaur Air Force Base just south of Kansas City and holds the Air Force fighter combat record of 409 missions and 1151 combat hours. He served in World War II, the Korean and Vietnam wars. In 2007, President Bush awarded the Airmen the Congressional Gold Medal of Honor, the nation's highest civilian award.

Read an interview with Col. McGee.