VANCE AIR FORCE BASE — Lt. Col. Kenyatta Ruffin, the 71st Operations Support Squadron commander, was awarded the Brig. Gen. Charles E. McGee Aviation Inspiration Award Feb. 3 in a virtual ceremony.
Ruffin is the second recipient of the award following original Tuskegee Airmen, retired Gen. McGee, for whom the award is named. It was presented to Ruffin by the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association as a part of the Hoover Trophy Program.
“Gen. McGee has been a champion of freedom and flying throughout his entire life, and I am humbled to be recognized as reflecting his virtues of determination, leadership and service,” Ruffin said.
The McGee Award celebrates the commitment that Ruffin has made to inspire young aviators around the nation to keep the Tuskegee Airmen legacy alive.
“The Tuskegee Airmen produced approximately 1,000 African-American pilots and today, there are less than 300 African-American pilots on active duty in the Air Force,” said Ruffin.
He hopes to reduce that gap by giving underrepresented youth access to the cockpit through a non-profit organization he created in 2012 called the Legacy Flight Academy. It is operated primarily out of Moton Field in Tuskegee, Ala., the original training location for the Tuskegee Airmen.
“The concept of fighting for more than just yourself and overcoming more than just the immediate challenges in front of you has become something that has strengthened me as I’ve progressed throughout my career,” Ruffin said.