BETHESDA, Md. - Iconic Tuskegee Airman pilot Brigadier General Charles McGee has passed at 102 years old.
A family spokesperson says McGee, who was a longtime Bethesda resident, passed away peacefully in his sleep Sunday morning.
In a statement his youngest daughter Yvonne McGee said, "He had his right hand over his heart and was smiling serenely."
"He was a wonderful human being…I feel proud and privileged to be called his son" said his son Ron McGee, in response to the heartbreaking news.
McGee was believed to be the oldest living Tuskegee Airman at the time of his passing. He was 22 years old when he became a part of history in the making.
"I took the exams and passed and all I can say was when I got a call after that first flight I was hooked," McGee said. "Back then we didn't realize what was taking place. We were doing something supporting the country."
McGee went on to command a squadron during World War II, the Korean War and the Vietnam War. He said his squads all had one goal.
"Our role moving into bomber escort was to save American lives," he said. "I don't see myself as a hero. I see myself as one little American that did accomplish something that was helpful."
In total over those three wars, General McGee flew 409 successful missions. He holds one of the highest combat totals and longest active duty careers of any Air Force fighter pilot in history.
McGee’s home in Bethesda was filled with awards, including a Congressional Gold Medal from President George W. Bush. He was also recognized by President Trump during his State of the Union address in 2020.
After retiring, McGee spent his time inspiring future generations to pursue their dreams, and to persevere gracefully through all challenges they may face. His mantra, the Four P’s, "Perceive, Prepare, Perform, and Persevere" has become a staple among the many lives he touched.
McGee is survived by his oldest daughter, Charlene McGee Smith, his son, Ronald McGee, his youngest daughter Yvonne McGee, several grandchildren, great grandchildren, and great great grandchildren.