General Charles McGee first earned his pilot’s wings as one of the famous Tuskegee Airmen in 1943. Now at 101 years old and one of the last living Tuskegee Airmen, Kansas City is making sure his mark on America – and yes Kansas City — is not forgotten.
On Tuesday, the Charles B. Wheeler Downtown Airport’s general aviation terminal was renamed to the Brigadier General Charles E. McGee General Aviation Terminal to honor McGee’s many achievements.
McGee’s career in the US Air Force spanned three decades and a total of 409 combat missions across three wars: World War II, the Korean War and the Vietnam War. That’s the most combat missions flown by any Air Force fighter pilot.
In the 1950s, McGee was stationed at Kansas City’s Richards-Gebaur Air Force Base and was the first Black commander of the Richard-Gebaur Air Reserve Base.
After retiring, McGee made Kansas City home, where he served as manager of the downtown airport from 1980 to 1982. He also was a member of the Aviation Advisory Commission.
“I think about someone like you, General McGee, and I think about how you can truly bring so many together with a smile, with a commitment to service, with a dedication to our community and our country,” Mayor Quinton Lucas said at the ceremony. “We are so thankful that life brought you to Kansas City and we are so thankful to have you here today.”
A bronze plaque honoring McGee will also be placed at the terminal, which is located at 925 Lou Holland Drive.
The renaming is not the first time McGee has been honored for his service. Last year, McGee was honored at the State of the Union Address and he was promoted from colonel to brigadier general.
An honored soldier, McGee was also awarded the Legion of Merit with oak leaf cluster from the United States Air Force, the Elder Statesman of Aviation Award from the National Aeronautics Association, the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Air Force Association and the Congressional Gold Medal, the highest honor bestowed by Congress.