Segments in this Video

Charles McGee: Introduction (01:23)


McGee was the son of a preacher. He joined the Army Air Force during a time of segregation and discrimination, and fought in three wars. He flew more combat missions than any other pilot during his 30 year career.

McGee's Early Life (02:10)

McGee, born in Ohio in 1919, received the same education as white students. He enlisted in the Civilian Conservation Corps, attended college, and worked in a steel mill. After the attack on Pearl Harbor, McGee enlisted in the Air Force.

Tuskegee Institute, Alabama (02:26)

McGee was accepted into pilot training and headed to Alabama; he recalls segregation on the train. The African American pilots strove for perfection and received extra training while their white counterparts joined combat units.

Tuskegee Flyers (03:11)

In January 1944, McGee joined the 332nd Fighter Group in Italy before transferring to the 15th Strategic Air Force where he and the other Tuskegee Airmen escorted bombers. McGee recalls warding off a German fighter.

McGee's Perseverance (04:01)

The Air Force remained segregated after WWII, forcing McGee and other pilots to learn new skills; President Truman formally desegregated the military in 1948. McGee excelled in every assignment, encountered segregated off-base housing, and flew an F-51 in the Korean War.

Career Officer (02:31)

McGee was promoted to major in 1950. He earned the Flying Cross, flew his 100th mission in 1951, and learned to fly jets. At the end of the Korean War, McGee attended the Command and General Staff School in Alabama and encountered racism; he considered leaving the Air Force.

Modernizing Air Force (04:04)

Despite military desegregation, no black officer commanded a domestic air wing; McGee recalls his determination to excel. He trained in the F-89 Scorpion, managed maintenance staff, was responsible for missiles, was promoted to the regular Air Force, became Chief of Joint Plans and Operations for a Latin American mission, and flew air reconnaissance in the Vietnam War.

McGee's Military Achievements (03:19)

McGee flew reconnaissance missions out of Tan Son Nhut Air Base. In 1968, McGee organized his squadron to manage a large list of missions and flew his 172nd combat mission. McGee became the first African American to command a domestic air wing; he retired in 1973.

Credits: Legends of Air Power: Charles McGee (00:22)

Credits: Legends of Air Power: Charles McGee

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Legends of Air Power: Charles McGee

Part of the Series : Legends of Air Power
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The son of a preacher man, Charles McGee believed that education was the key to equal opportunities for all races. He joined the Army Air Force at a time when its policies reflected the belief that blacks were incapable of succeeding in technologically complicated jobs. Without fanfare, McGee and his fellow Tuskegee Airmen proved the bigots wrong. McGee fought in three wars-WWII, Korea, and Vietnam-and racked up over 6300 flight hours by the time he retired.

Length: 24 minutes

Item#: BVL129013

ISBN: 978-1-64023-380-5

Copyright date: ©2001

Closed Captioned

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