Officer's Personal Medal Presented to 302nd Fighter Squadron, The Original Red Tails
The 302nd Fighter Squadron is now home to a Congressional Gold Medal in Aviation. Tuskegee Airman retired Col. Charles McGee presented his personal medal to Col. Bryan Radliff, 477th Fighter Group commander during the 41st Annual Tuskegee Airmen Convention in Las Vegas, NV last week.
During World War II McGee was a member of the 302nd Fighter Squadron. The unit painted the tails of their airplane red, which led them to become known as the Red Tails. The 302nd FS today flies the F-22 Raptor and falls under the 477th FG. The 477th FG and 302nd FS were reactivated at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska, in October 2007. They became the Air Force Reserve Command's first F-22 Raptor unit and the only Air Force Reserve unit in Alaska.
"Finish what I started," said McGee, who holds an Air Force record of 409 fighter combat missions flown in World War II, Korea and Vietnam, after shaking hands with a few members of the 477th FG who attended the convention.
Senior Airmen Marren Clay is a dedicated crew chief and reservist assigned to the 477th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron. His job it is to launch the F-22's and the Reserve pilots assigned to the 302nd FS. He was in attendance during the medal presentation. "It is a humbling experience to be in the presence of such aviation greatness as Col. McGee and the other Tuskegee Airmen," said Clay. "The Tuskegee Airmen began a tradition of greatness that I hope to carry on."
McGee, along with other Tuskegee Airmen, were presented the medal in 2007 by President George W. Bush for their long-ago heroism. Individual Airmen received bronze replicas while the original gold medal resides at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington D.C.
(Image credit USAF. Tuskegee Airman retired Col. Charles McGee’s Congressional Gold Medal. McGee, in the background, donated his medal for display in the 302nd Fighter Squadron.)