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Remembering Brig Gen Charles McGee

Brig. Gen. Charles McGee (December 7, 1919 – January 16, 2022)

Video - An Evening With Charles McGee from June 1,2020

Commemorative Air Force

The entire Commemorative Air Force is saddened by the news of Brig Gen Charles McGee’s passing last night. McGee was a National Treasure. He was a hero of three wars, a mentor to many, and always leaning forward to clear the path for others to follow. He was humble, strong, outspoken and a shining example to our entire country. He, and his family, will be in our thoughts and prayers and he will forever be a part of the fabric of the Commemorative Air Force.

-Hank Coates CAF President/CEO


The day we all have dreaded has arrived and we are sad to report that our mentor, hero, inspiration, and friend has passed. Brigadier General Charles McGee’s daughter Yvonne reported to us that her father flew West on his final flight in his sleep last night. She said she found him this morning with his hand on his heart and a smile on his face. He was 102 years old and passed away at home.

Nothing we can say here is worthy of the measure of this man. His Military service in 3 wars is highly decorated and widely recognized, but it is arguable that his quiet public service following his retirement is even more impressive.

Charles spent over 40 years relentlessly reaching out to young people to help them understand how they can overcome obstacles and achieve their full potential. To that end he was our biggest supporter, and most valuable resource as we developed and executed the CAF Rise Above program.
He will be widely eulogized in the days and weeks ahead, and the CAF Rise Above Squadron will have much more to say about his life and service. But for now, let us pause and remember this incredible man.

Doug Rozendaal Leader of CAF RISE ABOVE Squadron

Arsenal of Democracy

The organizers of the Arsenal of Democracy Flyover were saddened to learn that Brigadier General Charles Edward McGee passed away on Sunday, January 16, at the age of 102.

McGee was a decorated U.S. Army Air Force and U.S. Air Force pilot, who was a Tuskegee Airman and served in World War II, Korea and Vietnam. During his service, he flew 409 combat missions. McGee earned several military honors including the Legion of Merit with Oak Leaf Cluster, the Distinguished Flying Cross with Two Clusters and two Presidential Unit Citations. He was also awarded the Congressional Gold Medal in 2007 and inducted into the National Aviation Hall of Fame in 2011.

McGee was honored for his service during both the 2015 and 2020 Arsenal of Democracy Flyovers commemorating the 70th and 75th anniversaries of the end of World War II.

"Brigadier General Charles McGee was a true American hero and the kindest and most humble patriot I have ever known. His dedication and service to our nation went far beyond his time and distinction as a three-war combat fighter pilot. He has been a role model to so many of us and even into his centenarian years, tirelessly promoted education and careers in the aerospace to future generations. Brigadier General McGee lived an exemplary life and we have been so blessed to have him be a prominent part of some very special aviation events. We extend our deepest and heartfelt condolences to his family and friends. He will forever live in our hearts and be remembered as a national treasure," said Pete Bunce, President and CEO of the General Aviation Manufacturers Association (GAMA), and Arsenal of Democracy Executive Committee member.

"For three-quarters of a century, Brigadier General McGee helped put a face on the triumphs, sacrifice and patriotism of the people who helped to win World War II while also serving as a source of motivation and inspiration for the tens of thousands who heard him speak about his time as a Tuskegee Airman. Our nation has lost a true patriot," said John Cudahy, President of the International Council of Air Shows (ICAS), and Arsenal of Democracy Executive Committee member.

“The entire Commemorative Air Force family is saddened by the news of General Charles McGee’s passing. General McGee was a Hero of three wars, always leaning forward and clearing paths for others to follow while being humble, strong, outspoken and a beacon for all. General McGee was a Giant among men, a friend to all, a mentor to many and a shining example to our entire country. He, and his family, will be in our thoughts and prayers and he will forever be a part of the fabric of the Commemorative Air Force,“ said Hank Coates, President of the Commemorative Air Force (CAF), and Arsenal of Democracy Executive Committee member.

Arsenal of Democracy Gala - Interview with WWII Air Combat Veterans, May 7, 2015

If you would like to send a message of condolence to the McGee family, please send an email to media@cafhq.org.

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