February 03, 2020

Van Hollen Presses Administration to Expedite Honorary Promotion for Col. McGee

Today, U.S. Senator Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) sent a letter to Secretary of the Air Force Barbara Barrett urging the Air Force to quickly process the honorary promotion of Colonel (Ret.) Charles E. McGee. Colonel McGee, a resident of Bethesda, Md., served with the Tuskegee Airmen in World War II, completing 136 combat missions. Col. McGee recently celebrated his 100th birthday and was featured in last night’s coin toss at the Super Bowl.

In July, Senator Van Hollen introduced legislation to authorize Col. McGee’s promotion, which was then passed unanimously by the full Senate. Senator Van Hollen also pushed to include his provision within the Senate version of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). In December, Senator Van Hollen announced the successful inclusion of the provision within the NDAA, and the legislation was then passed by both the House and the Senate. On December 20, 2019 it was signed into law by the President, but to enact the promotion the Air Force must now prepare a formal proposal to the President. In his letter, Senator Van Hollen asks the Air Force to do so expeditiously, in order to ensure the timely promotion of Col. McGee.

The text of the letter is available here and below:

Dear Secretary Barrett:

I write regarding the honorary promotion for Colonel (Ret.) Charles E. McGee authorized in Section 599A of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2020.

Based on conversations between my staff and the Air Force’s Congressional Liaison office, I understand that this honorary promotion is currently on your desk for approval, after which, due to a ruling by the Air Force General Counsel, it must go through the Joint Staff, several OSD offices, the Secretary of Defense, and the National Security Council before it can be presented to the President. We have been advised that this process may take two months or more.

While I understand the importance of thoughtful consideration in situations such as this, I ask that you make every effort to move this honorary promotion package through the appropriate channels and to the President as quickly as possible.

I was honored to be able to assist in securing this honorary promotion authority through the NDAA, and I hope that you will assist me ensuring that one of our Nation’s distinguished Tuskegee Airmen receives this honor as soon as possible.


Chris Van Hollen

United States Senator