Trump's surprise SOTU guests: A Tuskegee Airman and the grandson following in his footsteps

McGee and Grandson
Photo credit Getty Images
By Connecting Vets

Half of the guests President Donald Trump invited to his third State of the Union address on Tuesday were veterans or Gold Star family members — but there were a couple of important surprise guests in the audience as well. 

Four of the president's SOTU guests are veterans and Gold Star spouses

"In the gallery tonight, we have one of the Space Force's youngest potential recruits:  13-year-old Iain Lanphier, an eighth-grader from Arizona," Trump said. 

The newly established Space Force is the first new branch in the United States Armed Forces since President Truman established the Air Force. 

Lanphier was first in his class at an aviation academy — and one of the youngest. He plans to attend the Air Force Academy and then the Space Force, Trump explained. 

"As Iain says, 'most people look up at space, I want to look down on the world,'" Trump said.

And where did Lanphier's skyward aspirations come from? 

"Sitting beside Iain tonight is his great hero," Trump said. "Charles McGee was born in Cleveland, Ohio, one century ago.  Charles is one of the last surviving Tuskegee Airmen -- the first black fighter pilots -- and he also happens to be Iain's great-grandfather."  

Brig. Gen. McGee

McGee flew more than 130 combat missions in World War II before serving in Korea and Vietnam. For his 100th birthday in December of last year, McGee flew again and this past Sunday, he was featured in the Super Bowl coin toss.

Meet the World War II veterans who participated in the Super Bowl LIV coin toss 

PHOTO GALLERY: Tuskegee Airman takes to the skies to celebrate his 100th birthday

But even at 100 years old, McGee's military career isn't over — he was just promoted. 

"A few weeks ago, I signed a bill promoting Charles McGee to Brigadier General.  And earlier today, I pinned the stars on his shoulders in the Oval Office," Trump said.

Congress urged to offer Tuskegee Airman honorary promotion from colonel to brigadier general

"General McGee, our Nation salutes you."

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