Seatrade Cruise News is part of the Informa Markets Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them. Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

Princess salutes Tuskegee Airman on his 100th birthday cruise

Princess Cruises President John Padgett, center, presents retired Lt. Col. James H. Harvey III a cake on Discovery Princess to celebrate his 100th birthday
Princess Cruises on Sunday welcomed one of the last surviving Tuskegee Airmen to Discovery Princess in Seattle as he arrived for an Alaska cruise, an early celebration of his 100th birthday.

Lt. Col. James H. Harvey III, retired US Army Air Corps and Air Force officer, 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.

Real 'Top Gun'

During the Discovery Princess cruise, Harvey will share insights from his service and remarkable life with other passengers as part of a scheduled onboard discussion.

'It's our sincere honor to celebrate the 100th birthday of Lt. Col. Harvey III, a trailblazer, hero and real "Top Gun,"' Princess Cruises President John Padgett said.

USAF presents the colors

To honor Harvey, the McChord Field Honor Guard welcomed him and his family aboard Discovery Princess with a USAF traditional presentation of colors. Padgett was on hand with a birthday cake while hundreds of Discovery Princess crew joined in wishing the airman a happy 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.

Congressional Gold Medal

Harvey, along with every member of the Tuskegee Airmen, received the Congressional Gold Medal in 2006.

In addition, Harvey won the USAF's 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.