After recently celebrating his 100th birthday, Charles McGee is being honored for reaching yet another milestone.
The veteran, who served in World War II as a Tuskegee Airman, is touting a new title these days after being promoted to brigadier general on Dec. 20, D.C. station WUSA 9 reported. The honorary promotion was made possible when President Donald Trump signed the National Defense Authorization Act of 2020 into law last week.
The bill, approved by the Senate earlier this year, authorizes appropriations for the Department of Defense activities and programs, including military personnel strengths, benefits and health care, among other things, and it included an amendment authorizing McGee’s promotion.
“I hope [that] I’m deserving,” McGee said, calling the honorary rank “very meaningful.” “It’s wonderful to be recognized for service and what it means to serve.”
The U.S. airman celebrated his 100th birthday on Dec. 7 with a flight in which he took the controls of a private jet, an honor fit for a man who flew more than 130 missions during his time in the service. As a fighter pilot with the elite all-Black “Red Tails Squadron,” McGee helped protect the Fifteenth Air Force bombers. He’d go on to serve in Korea and Vietnam before retiring from the U.S. Air Force in 1973 with the rank of colonel.
Longtime friend Vincent Mickens told WUSA 9 that McGee was more than deserving of the prestigious promotion. His friend is one of only four Tuskegee Airmen to achieve such a rank.
“It should be a great example,” Mickens added. “Stay focused on what you want to accomplish and you can accomplish truly anything.”
McGee said he hopes the honor serves as inspiration to others to never give up on their dreams.
“We had folks tell us you can’t do something,” he said. “I think this kind of sweeps that away. Realize that you can.”
According to the station, the newly appointed brigadier general is expected to be honored in a special ceremony sometime next month.
Watch more in the video below.