Page 10 - Scene Magazine 45-10 October 2020
P. 10

  Veterans Issue
BY TIM MITCHELL
Senior Care Partners P.A.C.E.
   Forever etched in the granite wall at the Korean War Memorial in Washington D.C. are words that encapsulate the price of liberty, “Freedom is not free.” Many brave men and women have purchased the great freedoms we enjoy. In the pow- erful words of Korean War Veteran and purple heart recipient, Howard William Osterkamp, “Many gave some. Some gave all.”
While the faces and names of hun- dreds of thousands of these immortalized individuals have faded from our memory over time, most of them unknown by the masses, they are nonetheless still heroes who offered their lives to protect the liberties of a nation.
One such Veteran, Charles McGee,
a name unknown to most, was born in 1919, lost his mother before he was two years of age, lived through the Great Depression, and was raised by his father who worked at many jobs from teaching to social work, as well as serving as an African Methodist Episcopal Church Minister.
After graduating from the Chicago area Du Sable High in 1938, with no money to attend college, McGee went
to work for the Civilian Conservation Corps in northern Illinois, where he learned engineering and contour farm- ing. There he earned enough money to attend the University of Illinois where he studied engineering and was also in the Reserve Officer Training Corps program. McGee vividly recalls the events of December 7, 1941, his 20th birthday, “My father was preaching in a church in Gary, Indiana, and I had taken a summer job in the steel mill there. I was also in the Coleridge Taylor Glee Club and we were driving to sing at a church in South Chicago that Sunday afternoon when
we heard the news of the attack on Pearl Harbor. We went on with the concert, but I knew that one way or another we were going to be involved in the war.”
Even though McGee never recalls seeing an airplane when he was grow- ing up, he responded to a call by the United States Army to be part of an experimental aviation group which eventually became prestigiously known as the Tuskegee Airman, the first black military aviators in the U.S. Army Air
10 SCENE 4510 I VETERANS ISSUE
Corps (AAC), a precursor of the U.S. Air Force. Trained at the Tuskegee Army Airfield in Alabama, collectively they flew more than 15,000 individual missions in Europe and North Africa during World War II. Their impressive performance earned them more than 150 Distinguished Flying Crosses and helped encourage the eventual integration of the U.S. armed forces.
American has made to our great country. However, Charles McGee symbolizes
in a very real way the resilience and tenacity of hundreds of thousands of military personnel throughout history. Without these brave men and women, our freedoms would have become null and void. Indeed, heroes walk among us, sometimes without our knowledge.
At Senior Care Partners P.A.C.E., we are extremely proud to serve many of these heroes, Veterans who have answered the call of their country to serve unselfishly
during times of
war and peace.
Their individ-
ual sacrifices
can never be
fully repaid.
However, caring
for them during
one of their great-
est battles – the bat-
tle of aging – is our
opportunity to help
them bravely remain
safely in their own
home so they don’t have
to spend their remaining
years in a nursing home.
We care for them with
great compassion because
they fought for us with
fierce passion. Thank you,
Veterans, for your service
to the United States of
America!
To learn more about how Senior Care Partners P.A.C.E. can help you or a family member remain safely in your home please call (269) 441-9319 or visit www.senior-
carepart-
nersmi.
org.
Heroes Walk Among Us
McGee stood out as one of the top aviators among the Tuskegee Airmen. On June 30, 1943, he earned his pilot’s wings and proudly became one of the African American airmen famous for
not only their combat successes, but also the great impact they had on the cultural shift in the military. His career spanned across three decades, where he flew 409 combat missions during three different wars – WWII, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War. He personally flew 136 missions during WWII, 100 missions in the Korean War, and 173 in the Vietnam War. While serving, McGee was present- ed with the Distinguished Flying Cross, Legion of Merit, Bronze Star, Air Medal, and the Presidential Unit Citation.
After his tour in Vietnam, McGee continued his military career, being promoted to colonel, and eventually took command of Richards-Gebauer Air Force Base, retiring from military service in 1973. He then experienced a second fulfilling career in civilian life as the Vice President of Real Estate for Interstate Securities Company and then the Director of the Kansas City Down- town Airport until his second and final retirement.
However, little did he know, at the age of 100, his military status would be reignited. On January 4, 2020, he found himself in the Oval Office of the White House being promoted to Brigadier Gen- eral and that same evening was a gallery guest of the President of the United States at the State of the Union address where 37 million viewers learned of this remarkable American life as the Presi- dent espoused McGee’s valor, heroism, and the groundbreaking changes he helped bring to what is now the United States Air Force.
Unfortunately, it is not possible to name each contribution that every
 
















































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