CLEVELAND — If you were watching the President’s State of the Union Tuesday night, you could not have missed Charles McGee, an honoree in attendance who garnered the nation’s respect.
“Charles is one of the last-surviving Tuskegee airmen, the first black fighter pilots,” President Trump said.
McGee had been sitting next to his great-grandson, Iain, who dreams of one day joining the nation’s “Space Force” program.
His great-grandfather is one of only nine Tuskegee combat pilots who are still alive.
Not only did McGee fly more than 100 combat missions over Nazi Europe during World War II, he went on to fly hundreds more in Korea and Vietnam.
Eventually he earned the Congressional Gold Medal.
This week, the honors continued, as he brought the coin out onto the field for the flip at the Super Bowl and then attended the State of the Union Tuesday night.
On Wednesday, he was at NASA Headquarters being interviewed about his life.
“I love flying and to be able to get off the ground and loop roll and spin and come back and put your feet on the ground,” he said.
McGee shared he was born in Cleveland in 1919 and considers himself “a Buckeye.” He also spoke about World War II and how “segregation went overseas” in the military.
“The Courier wrote an article once saying, ‘We’re fighting for two victories. Victory over Hitler and Europe, and victory over racism here at home,’” he said. “The Air Force led the country in integration.”
Before leaving the stage, he asked the room what they were doing for future generations.
“Are you mentoring a youngster coming along behind you?” he asked. “If you aren’t mentoring a youngster, find one, because they are out there, they are in need, and they are the future of our country.”
Last year, McGee celebrated his 100th birthday by piloting a plane.