Trump honors one of the last surviving Tuskegee Airmen during State of the Union address

During President Trump’s State of the Union address to Congress on Tuesday night, he honored one of the last surviving Tuskegee Airmen, who stood with his 13-year-old great-grandson also recognized by the president for aspiring to join the Space Force.

“He aspires to go to the Air Force Academy and then he has his eye on the Space Force,” Trump said, speaking about retired Brig. Gen. Charles McGee’s great-grandson, Iain Lanphier.

President Trump introduced Lanphier and his great-grandfather, who turned 100 in December, when he talked about the $2.2 trillion investment made in the military since he took office and noted the establishment of the Space Force as the sixth branch of the U.S. Armed Forces.

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Tuskegee airman Charles McGee, 100, salutes as his great grandson Iain Lanphier looks as President Donald Trump delivers his State of the Union address to a joint session of Congress on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, Feb. 4, 2020. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

Tuskegee airman Charles McGee, 100, salutes as his great grandson Iain Lanphier looks as President Donald Trump delivers his State of the Union address to a joint session of Congress on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, Feb. 4, 2020. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

“Sitting behind Iain tonight is his greatest hero of them all, Charles McGee, who was born in Cleveland, Ohio, one century ago,” Trump said.

McGee, one of the first black fighter pilots, is one of the Air Force’s most celebrated pilots. He received several standing ovations during Trump’s speech.

He flew 409 fighter combat missions over the course of three wars.

“After more than 130 combat missions in World War II, he came back home to a country still struggling for Civil Rights and went on to serve America in Korea and Vietnam,” Trump said.

“General McGee, our nation salutes you. Thank you. sir,” the president added.

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The Tuskegee Airmen is the nickname of the first African American unit to fly combat airplanes during World War II. The Air Force recently honored the famed group of airmen with the naming of its new trainer jet.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.