Tuskegee Airman McGee has Kansas City Airport Terminal Renamed in his Honor

Brigadier General Charles McGee of Bethesda earns honors on June 29 when the General Aviation terminal at Kansas City, Missouri’s Charles B. Wheeler Airport will bear his name.

The Bronze Star recipient who is 101 years old was a Tuskegee Airman with the U.S. Air Force. He was part of the 332nd Fighter Group and the 477th Bombardment Group. He will attend the naming ceremony, along with his daughter, Yvonne, and son, Ron McGee, who also was an Air Force pilot.

General McGee said he was “honored beyond words,” adding that Kansas City “holds a special place in my heart…it’s where Frances [his wife] and I decided to make our home after I retired from the Air Force.”

McGee flew 409 combat missions during World War II, the Korean conflict and Vietnam. He served in leadership positions and was the first African American to command a stateside Air Force Wing and Base.

In a previous interview, McGee said he loved everything about serving his country and flying planes, but it wasn’t always easy for him. He had to battle the enemy abroad as well as racism in both in the army and at home. The army was segregated when he joined but was integrated while he still was there.

Since all airplane mechanics at the time he joined were white, he couldn’t be a pilot as there would have been no mechanics allowed to work on his plane. Also, during his early years, there was no base housing and the nearby towns surrounding Smokey Hill Air Force Base in Kansas would not rent or sell housing to African Americans.

The mayor of Kansas City, USAF Squadron Commander Lieutenant Colonel Kenyatta Ruffin and his 1st Lieutenant student pilot are expected to attend the naming dedication. Their USAF T6-A turboprop trainer will be parked on the aircraft ramp next to a Red Tail P-51 Mustang, similar to the one General McGee flew in during his Tuskegee Airman and USAF days.

McGee is expected to speak at the naming dedication. Textron Aviation, in association with Vince Mickens of the Private Air Media Group, is providing McGee with complimentary roundtrip transportation to and from the event on one of their private jets. The day before the dedication, Textron’s CEO Ron Draper plans to give McGee a personal tour of  the company’s aircraft manufacturing facilities in Wichita, Kansas.

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