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Charles McGee was an accomplished World War II fighter pilot and Army Captain, was one of the most decorated pilots in the Tuskegee Airmen, the nation’s first all-black aviation unit. Their record during the war was one of the reasons Harry Truman decided to desegregate the U.S. military in 1948. McGee’s wartime record, however, did little to change his treatment when he returned home.
“Segregation still existed across the country,” he recalls. When he couldn’t get a job as a civilian, he decided to remain in the military. He ended up flying a record 409 combat missions in World War II, Korea, and Vietnam. Today, he’s not concerned about his personal legacy. “It’s not the personal recognition that I seek,” he says. “I want to pass on to the young people of today that you can’t let your circumstances be an excuse for not achieving.”
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