West Virginia University at Parkersburg
300 Campus Drive Parkersburg WV 26104
Phone: 304-424-8203 | Fax: 304-424-8315
Tuskegee Airman: The Biography of Charles E. McGee, Air Force Fighter Combat Record Holder."
WVU Parkersburg to host a presentation by a member of the Tuskegee Airmen.
CONTACT: Debbie Richards, executive assistant to the President for policy and social justice, 304-424-8201.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
A member of the original Tuskegee Airmen, America’s first black military airmen, will give a free presentation Monday (Feb. 5) at West Virginia University at Parkersburg.
Charles E. McGee, a retired U.S. Air Force colonel, will talk about his experiences as a Tuskegee Airman during the program to be held in the college’s theatre at 11 a.m. His presentation is free and open to the public and part of the college's Black History Month program.
Following his talk, there will be a book signing by McGee and his daughter Charlene McGee Smith, author of "
A native of Cleveland, McGee received his silver wings as a single engine pilot and a commission as second lieutenant in 1943 as a graduating member of Class 43-F, Tuskegee Army Air Field, S.E. Flying Training Command. He remained on active duty for 30 years. He became a command pilot with over 6,000 total hours. He flew fighter aircraft combat tours in three major military conflicts.
His awards include the Legion of Merit with oak leaf cluster, the Distinguished Flying Cross with two clusters, a Bronze star, an Air medal with 25 clusters, an Army commendation medal, an Air Force commendation medal with cluster, Presidential Unit citation, Korean Presidential Unit citation, the Hellenic Republic WWII commemorative medal and several campaign and service ribbons. He retired from the U.S. Air Force in 1973.
The Tuskegee Airmen enlisted to become America's first black military airmen. They came from every section of the country, with large numbers coming from New York City, Washington, Los Angeles, Chicago, Philadelphia and Detroit. Those who possessed the physical and mental qualifications were accepted as aviation cadets to be trained initially as single-engine pilots and later to be either twin-engine pilots, navigators or bombardiers. The black airmen who became single-engine or multi-engine pilots were trained at Tuskegee Army Air Field (TAAF) in Tuskegee, Ala. The first aviation cadet class began in July 1941 and completed training nine months later in March 1942.
From 1942 through 1946, 994 pilots graduated at TAAF, receiving commissions and pilot wings. Four hundred and fifty of the pilots who were trained at TAAF served overseas in either the 99th Pursuit Squadron (later the 99th Fighter Squadron) or the 332nd Fighter Group. The 99th Fighter Squadron trained in and flew P-40 Warhawk aircraft in combat in North Africa, Sicily and Italy from April 1943 until July 1944 when they were transferred to the 332nd Fighter Group in the 15th Air Force.
The outstanding record of black airmen in World War II was accomplished by men whose names will forever live. These airmen fought two wars - one against a military force overseas and the other against racism at home and abroad. A film "The Tuskegee Airmen" about their struggles and triumphs was broadcast in 2006 by HBO which also produced the film.
Ms. Smith is associate provost for program development and implementation at Ohio University.She often travels and speaks to schools, civic groups and professional organizations on behalf of Tuskegee Airmen. Her book on her father was released in May 1999, with a 3rd edition appearing in 2003. Based on this publication, she received Honors from the Friends of the Libraries of Ohio University. Smith is also a recipient of the OU-COM Standard of Excellence Award for contributions and service.