With a patriotic salute and special celebration, Princess Cruises today welcomed one of the few surviving Tuskegee Airmen onboard Discovery Princess in Seattle as he arrived for his celebratory cruise to Alaska, marking an early commemoration for his 100th birthday. Lieutenant Colonel James H. Harvey III, retired United States Army Air Corps and Air Force officer (USAF), shattered racial barriers in the military as a part of a group of African American pilots who served their country with legendary distinction during World War II.
Princess Cruises Salutes Tuskegee Airman
To honor Harvey, the McChord Field Honor Guard welcomed him and his family aboard Discovery Princess with a USAF traditional display of presenting colors. Topping out the festivities, the Discovery Princess crew presented Lt Col Harvey with a birthday cake while hundreds of the ship’s company joined in wishing him a happy birthday.
“It’s our sincere honor to celebrate the 100th birthday of Lieutenant Colonel Harvey III, a trailblazer, hero, and real ‘Top Gun,’” said John Padgett, Princess Cruises president. “His life and legacy should remind everyone the power of courage, determination, resilience and the American spirit. From all of us at Princess Cruises, we salute Lt. Col. Harvey and wish him a very happy 100th birthday!”
Born in Montclair, New Jersey on July 13, 1923, Harvey is a former fighter pilot with the 332nd Fighter Groups 99th Squadron, best known as the Tuskegee Airmen, “Red Tails,” one of 1,007 documented pilots trained for aerial combat during World War II. He is best known as the first African American USAF jet fighter combat pilot to fight in the Korean War and flew 140 missions from 1949 to 1950. Harvey, along with every member of the Tuskegee Airmen, received the Congressional Gold Medal in 2006.
In addition, Harvey won the USAF’s very first “Top Gun” competition in 1949, when he and his team lead a grueling 10-day event comprised on aerial gunnery at 20,000 and 12,000 feet, dive bombing, skip bombing, rocketing firing and panel strafing.
After serving a combined 22 years (1943-1965) in the United States Army Air Corps and the United States Air Force, Harvey retired and joined Oscar Mayer as a corporate salesman and settled his family of four girls in Denver, where he still resides.
During the voyage Harvey will share insights from his storied service and remarkable life experiences with other guests as part of a scheduled onboard discussion. Discovery Princess is currently sailing on weeklong, roundtrip cruises from Seattle to Alaska, departing every Sunday through September.