When Brigadier General McGee joined the United States Army, he was expected to take on a manual labor duty, but he had different aspirations. Brig. Gen. McGee remembers the moment he knew he wanted to be pilot, “I passed my pilot’s exam and after my first flight down in Tuskegee Alabama, I was hooked,” he recalls.
In this conversation, Brig. Gen. Charles McGee reflects on his role as a pilot with the all Black flying unit, the Tuskegee Airmen.
Brig. Gen. McGee and the Airmen challenged racist ideology that supported segregation and relegated Black soldiers to menial jobs in the armed forces. The Airmen were aviation experts and gained fame for their military victories.
As a fighter pilot, McGee protected bomber aircrafts while they performed critical missions. “The focus was the mission and not on the segregation,” he proclaims.
Brig. Gen. McGee went on to serve in the Korean War and the Vietnam War. Altogether he completed nearly 400 combat missions.
In 1948, President Harry S. Truman signed Executive Order 9981, ending racial segregation in the armed forces. In 2007, the Tuskegee Airmen, including Brig. Gen. Charles McGee, received a Congressional Gold Medal for their service and role in breaking racial barriers.