MIAMI (AP) — Charles McGee flew 136 fight missions in World Struggle II as a part of the famed Tuskegee Airmen, attacking targets in Italy and supporting the rescue of 1,000 prisoners of battle in Romania. He went on to turn into a colonel and fly in wars in Korea and Vietnam.
On the age of 100, his newest mission will probably be to deal with the opening coin flip Sunday within the Tremendous Bowl.
“I’ll strive to not make any errors,’’ McGee mentioned. “I don’t have the particular coin so I haven’t practiced.’’
McGee will probably be joined by three different centenarian World Struggle II veterans for a coin flip that’s removed from ceremonial. Along with deciding which staff will get the ball first, the results of the flip will probably be carefully watched by gamblers throughout the nation who’ve cash on Tremendous Bowl proposition bets.
They have been requested by the NFL to take part to honor each their army heritage and the 100th anniversary of the NFL as knowledgeable soccer league.
“It was fairly a thrill to be requested,’’ McGee mentioned. “I couldn’t say no.’’
The NFL didn’t need to look far for simply the precise veteran to deal with the toss. McGee is cool underneath strain, as anybody who survived fight missions over Italy and components of Europe can be.
He’s nonetheless sharp and clear-headed, carrying on a cellphone dialog on Friday like he was half his age.
“I simply hope for an excellent recreation, and good refereeing,’’ he mentioned. “I’m trying ahead to seeing the coin after which seeing the sport.’’
McGee was dwelling on vacation in Chicago celebrating his 22nd birthday when Japanese planes bombed Pearl Harbor in 1941, sending the nation into battle. He remembers vividly being within the automotive with others in his glee membership driving to carry out at a South Chicago church when President Franklin Roosevelt got here on the radio to announce the bombing.
A couple of years into the battle he would be a part of the one African-American pilot squadron coaching in segregated Tuskegee, Alabama. He’s one of many final surviving airmen of the 996 pilots — 84 of whom misplaced their lives within the battle — who skilled in Alabama.
“The Military coverage on the time was we didn’t have the brainpower and ethical fiber to turn into pilots,’’ he mentioned. “We dispelled that notion.’’
The opposite 100-year-old veterans who will be a part of McGee for the coin flip are:
Odon Cardenas — Cardenas fought in France and Germany as a part of the Third Military underneath the command of Gen. George Patton. He was captured within the late phases of the battle in Germany, serving briefly as a prisoner of battle earlier than being liberated.
Samuel Lombardo — Lombardo served as a rifle platoon chief and firm government officer, combating within the Battle of the Bulge and different main campaigns within the last months of the battle.
Sidney Walton — Walton fought within the China, Burma and India theater after enlisting earlier than the battle with the acknowledged want of taking down Adolf Hitler. He and his son, Paul, have been on a tour visiting each state to boost consciousness of the diminishing variety of WWII veterans and the sacrifices they made.
“By honoring these 4 veterans on the championship recreation, the league is preserving the nationwide reminiscence of the Best Era and World Struggle II,’’ mentioned Holly Rotondi, government director of the Pals of the Nationwide World Struggle II Memorial.