Tuskegee Airman celebrates 100th birthday with a return to the sky

Tuskegee Airman celebrates 100th birthday

FREDERICK, MD (WBAL/NBC) - The oldest of nine known remaining Tuskegee Airmen turns 100 on Saturday.

Retired Col. Charles McGee decided to start the celebration a day early, though, with a return to the sky by taking a plane ride out of Frederick Municipal Airport in Maryland.

At 100, retired Col. Charles McGee is the oldest of nine remaining original Tuskegee Airmen.
At 100, retired Col. Charles McGee is the oldest of nine remaining original Tuskegee Airmen. (Source: NBC News)

The Tuskegee Airmen were the first black military aviators in the U.S. Army Air Corps.

The Bethesda, Maryland, native was drafted when he was a sophomore at the University of Illinois and served in the Air Force for 30 years, flying combat missions in World War II, Korea, and Vietnam.

Retired Col. Charles McGee decided to start the celebration of his 100th birthday a day early by climbing into a plane.
Retired Col. Charles McGee decided to start the celebration of his 100th birthday a day early by climbing into a plane. (Source: NBC News)

The party isn’t over, yet.

McGee plans to take another plane ride Saturday, his actual birthday, Dec. 7.

President George W. Bush awarded the Tuskegee Airmen collectively with a Congressional Gold Medal in 2006.

In July, the U.S. Senate passed a bill giving McGee an honorary promotion to brigadier general. It now sits before the U.S. House for approval and for the president’s signature.

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