OSHKOSH, Wis.(WFRV)- The oldest Tuskegee Airman, General Charles E. McGee returned to Oshkosh on Sunday ahead of the start of EAA AirVenture week.
Upon his return, Local 5’s Eric Richards was there to greet him. “I’ve been here many, many times, but to get back here again as I approach 102 is marvelous,” said McGee.
It’s 76-years after World War II, and McGee is still going strong. “Having served actively flying 27 of my 30-years, but then being able to come here and share with people that just like to look at airplanes or maybe kick the tires or maintain them, you can’t beat that,” said McGee.
In 1940, the Tuskegee Airmen were the first Black military aviators in the United States Army Air Corps, before being integrated into the U.S. Armed Forces. Members trained at the Tuskegee Army Air Field in Alabama. After returning from their service, the Airmen were subject to racism and prejudice. Decades later, they would be recognized for their service by Presidents George W. Bush, Barack Obama. In 2020, President Donald Trump awarded McGee with a promotion to Brigadier General.
Reflecting on his life, McGee says he is grateful to be here. “I’ve had wonderful experiences and opportunities to share and it’s certainly a blessing to be back again,” said McGee.
Traveling with his grandfather for the first time, 15-year-old Lain Lanphier says he wants to be an astronaut, but first he is stepping into his grandfather’s footsteps. ” I am currently on my way to join the Airforce Academy and I’m taking all the necessary steps to be ready for that,” said Lanphier. McGee is supportive an proud of him. “I think he wants to go farther than me, he wants to get into space. I didn’t quite do that,” said McGee.
McGee flew 409 combat missions during his service in World War II, Korea, and Vietnam. He has received a number of honors throughout his lifetime and continues to inspire generations. “He has a legacy to live up to and I strive to achieve that every day,” said Lanphier.
“For my grandson, all the youngsters and our Country’s future, we need to encourage them and hopefully they will find something they like to do,” said McGee. A scholarship fund has been created to aid African American College students who pursue STEM degrees at HBCUs.
Grant Kielczewski, manager of communications for Dessault Falcon Jet told Local 5 they provided the transportation for McGee and his family. “It is an honor and we are proud to transport a living hero, who proudly served his Country.”
For more information on that and an in-depth look at his legendary and inspiring life and careers, click here.