By Steve Pickett

DALLAS  (CBSDFW.COM) – Charles McGee will celebrate his 102nd birthday on December 7.

McGee is a decorated veteran visiting Dallas this week, as his name is attached to the Commemorative Air Force Museum at Dallas’ Executive Airport.

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But he also sits in the annals of American history, tied to the nation’s first military aviators.

McGee was a Tuskegee Airman.

During the World War II era, African Americans enlisted in the U.S. Armed Forces were racially segregated.

Blacks in Texas and throughout the South were subject to racial segregation laws. In the 1940s, McGee joined other black men for training to fly combat military planes.

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He earned his Tuskegee Airman pilot’s wings in 1943.

During his military career, McGee completed 400 air combat missions across three wars- World War II, Korean War and Vietnam.

McGee said he wanted to be a pilot, but also knew how pervasive the sentiment of racial bias was in that era.

“To serve with so many who said you couldn’t or shouldn’t , but we served our country, and I was doing something I enjoyed- flying,” he said Wednesday.

McGee said he still sees people “not on board with equal access,” but over the past century, he has lived and served as an American of distinction. He loves to teach children the value of service, and love of country.

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On Veterans Day, McGee will be at the Commemorative Air Force Museum Dallas, for the opening of the McGee and Hinz Theater, named in his honor.