Tuesday, the King Arts Complex honored an Ohio native who is a well decorated veteran that served with the Tuskegee Airmen!
Colonel Charles McGee, who also has a Congressional Medal of Honor, says he never imagined his service would impact America. He simply was seeking to serve his country.
“We didn’t go down there individually or even early together to set the world on fire if you will, and it wasn’t a part of civil rights,” said Colonel McGee. “It was just a part of young people wanting to do something to serve our country.”
McGee is now 99 years of age and was able to reflect on his time as a Tuskegee Airman more than 70 years ago.
At the time, prior to World War II, McGee was a student in college studying to be an engineer. When the United States entered the war, he applied for a pilot’s position with an experiential squadron and passed the exam. The rest was history.
“After my first flight even in primary training,” said McGee, “I knew I made the right decision.”
McGee believes the level of success the Tuskegee Airmen had escorting bombers to save American lives helped disprove some American myths, which was never truly what they sought out to do.
“We dispelled the biases, generalizations, and sometimes I feel racist ideas that because of color of skin we didn’t have talent, we didn’t have intellect, we didn’t have the moral fiber to successfully support the country in a technical area,” he stated.
Colonel McGee fully understands that his service paved the way for generations.
He now offers simple advice for others,
“Perceive, prepare, perform, persevere,” said McGee. “Perceive, dream your dreams and find your talents. Prepare, get a good education, learn to read, write, and speak well and develop those talents that are meaningful. Perform. Let excellence be your goal in everything you do, and persevere. Don’t let the circumstance be an excuse to not achieving.”