Pacific Aviation Museum Pearl Harbor and 400 guests paid tribute to the Tuskegee Airmen and the vital role they played during World War II with a special “WWII Tuskegee Airman Hangar Talk” by decorated WWII Tuskegee Airman Pilot Colonel Charles McGee. The event commemorated African American History Month.
Colonel McGee fought in WWII, Korea and Vietnam, and holds a record for one of the highest three-war total of fighter combat missions of any pilot in United States Air Force history. Colonel McGee began his military service as one of the Tuskegee Airmen in the 332nd Fighter Group. The Tuskegee Airmen were pioneers who fought racial prejudices to fly and fight for their country during WWII. His career in the U.S. Army Air Corps and U.S. Air Force spanned 30 years and three wars, where he flew 409 aerial combat missions. During his military career, Colonel McGee was awarded the Legion of Merit with Cluster, three Distinguished Flying Crosses, the Bronze Star and the Air Medal (25 times).
Also honored at the Hangar Talk was WWII Tuskegee Airman Philip Baham. Baham served as a crew chief for the 337th Composite Group at Tuskegee Army Air Field. Baham is a dedicated volunteer at Pacific Aviation Museum, sharing his story with visitors as a greeter in the lobby of Hangar 37.
The day before, on Friday, February 3, more than 250 Honolulu students in grades 6—12 were invited and attended another Museum presentation geared towards youth entitled, “In His Own Words,” presented by Colonel McGee.
“It was such an honor to have a veteran pilot of Col McGee’s stature and distinction speak with us,” said Pacific Aviation Museum Pearl Harbor Executive Director Kenneth DeHoff.
Prior to 1940, African Americans were prohibited from flying for the U.S. military. Even in light of extreme racism, African Americans fought to defend their country, which led to the formation of an all African-American pursuit squadron based in Tuskegee, Alabama, in 1941. They became known as the Tuskegee Airmen, who overcame segregation and prejudice to become one of the most highly respected fighter groups of WWII. Their dedication to defending the freedom of all Americans and their acts of heroism paved the way for full integration of the U.S. military. Tuskegee Airmen completed more than 1,500 missions.
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