Blaring car horns, homemade birthday posters, and a military flyover set the scene outside of Col. Charles McGee’s 101st birthday celebration.
McGee, a Tuskegee Airman Brigadier, was joined by family, friends, and neighbors outside his home in Bethesda, Maryland to mark the milestone.
Born December 7, 1919, he has one of the longest careers as a pilot with the US Air Force, spanning 30 years. In that time he flew 409 combat missions in three wars, WWII, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War.
He is one of the last surviving members of the famed Tuskegee Airmen, the first Black military aviators in the US who trained at the Tuskegee Army Air Field in Alabama during the early 1940s.
“He won’t take this recognition for himself,” his daughter told NBC4 Washington, “He represents all the people that didn’t make it back; he said, ‘those are the real heroes.’”
The festivities were organized by the East Coast Chapter of the Tuskegee Airmen, Inc. and The Maryland Cruisers, a classic car club.
McGee’s day also included a flyover of the same aircraft he flew in WWII.
“If someone’s going to ask an old fighter pilot, ‘What’s your favorite?’, it’s going to be the P-51,” McGee said. Calling the flyover tribute, “a blessing to see.”
Photo: Getty Images