Charles McGee in Uniform (right)

Charles McGee, a member of the Tuskegee Airmen who flew 409 fighter combat missions in three wars, has died at the age of 102. 

In tweets on Sunday, Vice President Harris and Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin called McGee an American hero.

“Today, we lost an American hero, Brigadier General Charles McGee,” Harris wrote in a tweet. “A member of the Tuskegee Airmen, he completed over 400 missions during World War II, Korea, and Vietnam. I had the honor of calling him last month on his 102nd birthday to thank him for his service to our nation.” 

Charles McGee in Uniform 1942 or 1943

McGee was among the 900 men that trained in Alabama from 1940 to 1946 after the Army Air Corps was forced to admit Black pilots, The Associated Press reported

McGee was one of the few American pilots to fly combat missions during World War II and in the Korean and Vietnam wars. 

“Today, we lost an American hero,” Austin wrote in a tweet Sunday. “Charles McGee, Brigadier General and one of the last surviving Tuskegee Airman, passed at the age of 102. While I am saddened by his loss, I’m also incredibly grateful for his sacrifice, his legacy, and his character. Rest in peace, General.” 

He was the recipient of the prestigious Key of Life Award presented by the NAACP.

“We shattered all the myths,” McGee said in a biography by his daughter, Charlene E. McGee Smith, published in 1999, according to the New York Times.

“A lot of what we fought for was an opportunity to overcome having someone look at you and, because of your color, close a door on you.”