World War II Tuskegee Airman packs in audience at PAM

| February 9, 2017 | 1 Comment
Retired  Col. Charles McGee  converses with a child.

Retired Col. Charles McGee high-fives a child during his book signing. (Photo courtesy of Jose Rodrigues, Picture This! Photography)

Pacific Aviation Museum observes Black History Month

Pacific Aviation Museum
News Release

HONOLULU — Pacific Aviation Museum Pearl Harbor and 400 guests paid tribute to the Tuskegee Airmen and the vital role they played during World War II with a special “WWII Tuskegee Airman Hangar Talk” by decorated World War II Tuskegee Airman and pilot Col. Charles McGee.

The event commemorated African-American History Month.

PACIFIC AVIATION MUSEUM - Former Tuskegee Airman and pilot Col. Charles McGee receives a koa wood bowl at the ÒWW II Tuskegee Airmen Hangar Talk! at the Pacific Aviation Museum, Feb. 3. (Photo courtesy of Jose Rodrigues, Picture This! Photography)

PACIFIC AVIATION MUSEUM – Former Tuskegee Airman and pilot Col. Charles McGee receives a koa wood bowl at the ÒWW II Tuskegee Airmen Hangar Talk! at the Pacific Aviation Museum, Feb. 3. (Photo courtesy of Jose Rodrigues, Picture This! Photography)

McGee fought in World War II, Korea and Vietnam, and he holds a record for one of the highest three-war total of fighter combat missions of any pilot in U.S. Air Force history.

McGee began his military service as one of the Tuskegee Airmen in the 332nd Fighter Group. The Tuskegee Airmen were pioneers who fought racial prejudices to fly and fight for their country during World War II.

His career in the U.S. Army Air Corps and U.S. Air Force spanned 30 years and three wars, where he flew 409 aerial combat missions. During his military career, McGee was awarded the Legion of Merit with Cluster, three Distinguished Flying Crosses, the Bronze Star and the Air Medal (25 times).

Also honored at the Hangar Talk was World War II Tuskegee Airman Philip Baham, who served as a crew chief for the 337th Composite Group at Tuskegee Army Air Field. Baham is a dedicated volunteer at Pacific Aviation Museum, sharing his story with visitors as a greeter in the lobby of Hangar 37.

The day before, on Friday, Feb. 3, more than 250 Honolulu students in grades 6-12 were invited and attended another Museum presentation geared towards youth entitled, “In His Own Words,” presented by McGee.

“It was such an honor to have a veteran pilot of Col. McGee’s stature and distinction speak with us,” said Kenneth DeHoff, executive director, Pacific Aviation Museum Pearl Harbor.

Prior to 1940, African-Americans were prohibited from flying for the U.S. military. Even in light of extreme racism, African-Americans fought to defend their country, which led to the formation of an all African-American pursuit squadron based in Tuskegee, Alabama, in 1941.

This formation became known as the Tuskegee Airmen, and they overcame segregation and prejudice to become one of the most highly respected fighter groups of World War II. Their dedication to defending the freedom of all Americans and their acts of heroism paved the way for full integration of the U.S. military.

Tuskegee Airmen completed more than 1,500 missions.

PACIFIC AVIATION MUSEUM - Former Tuskegee Airman and pilot Col. Charles McGee greets attendees at the "WW II Tuskegee Airmen Hangar Talk" at the Pacific Aviation Museum, Feb. 3. (Photo by Jose Rodrigues, Picture That! Photography)

PACIFIC AVIATION MUSEUM – Former Tuskegee Airman and pilot Col. Charles McGee greets attendees at the “WW II Tuskegee Airmen Hangar Talk” at the Pacific Aviation Museum, Feb. 3. (Photo by Jose Rodrigues, Picture That! Photography)

• Pacific Aviation Museum Pearl Harbor

It’s located on historic Ford Island, where bombs fell during the attack on Pearl Harbor, Dec. 7, 1941. Its mission is to develop and maintain an internationally recognized aviation museum that educates young and old alike, to honor aviators and their support personnel who defended freedom in the Pacific region and to preserve Pacific aviation history.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

Category: Community Relations, Leadership, News, Veterans

Comments (1)

Trackback URL | Comments RSS Feed

  1. Ron Brewington says:

    Greetings…I’m Ron Brewington, a Tuskegee Airmen historian. In paragraph 3, it states: “McGee fought in WWII, Korea and Vietnam, and holds a record for one of the highest three-war total of fighter combat missions of any pilot in United States Air Force History.” – False – Colonel Ralph S. Parr also flew in three wars, and his total number of combat missions is 641. He flew 12 missions in P-38s during World War II, 165 missions in F-80s and 37 missions in F-86s during the Korean War, and 427 missions in F-4s during two tours of duty during the Vietnam War.

    McGee should be honored for having flown 409 combat missions as a fighter pilot in the Air Force, and for having flown in three wars, World War II, Korea, and Vietnam, but the claim that he flew more combat missions than any other USAF pilot, or more combat missions than any other USAF fighter pilot, or more combat missions than any other USAF fighter pilot in three wars, is false.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *