Jan 26, 2012

Columbia College alumnus Col. Charles McGee '78 consults on George Lucas movie “Red Tails”

Col. Charles McGee '78

Col. Charles McGee, a 1978 Columbia College graduate and Tuskegee Airman, served as a technical consultant for the World War II movie “Red Tails,” opening nationwide Jan. 20. “Red Tails," a George Lucas film starring Terrence Howard and Cuba Gooding Jr., focuses on the exploits of the Airmen, the first African American fighter pilots in U.S. history, charged with escorting American bombers across the hostile skies of German-occupied Europe.

        “It’s really quite an interesting movie, the way he [Lucas] put it together,” said McGee. “He got the facts right. To try to put such a long story in a short film is rather difficult, so while maybe it is not 100 percent accurate, the combat scenes are tremendous and the message is tremendous: that color is not a measure of talent. It’s a good message from the past and a good one for young folks today, too.”

        McGee is a frequent visitor to the Columbia College main campus in Columbia, Mo., for such events as the college’s annual Military Recognition Day held in May. He also endowed the Col. Charles E. McGee Scholarship, an annual $1,000 award to an undergraduate or graduate Columbia College student classified as a veteran or dependent of a veteran.

        “It’s all about education,” McGee said. “To prepare yourself so when opportunities come your way, you take advantage of them.  The movie rings to that, too.”

        McGee served in World War II, the Korean and Vietnam wars. He held the Air Force fighter combat record of 409 missions and 1151 combat hours. In 2007, President George Bush awarded him and the surviving Airmen the Congressional Gold Medal of Honor, the nation's highest civilian award.