Lieutenant Colonel James H. Harvey III, one of the few surviving Tuskegee Airmen, was welcomed aboard Discovery Princess for his centennial birthday.
On May 21, 2023, Princess Cruises welcomed one of the few surviving Tuskegee Airmen aboard Discovery Princess in Seattle. The cruise line honored Lieutenant Colonel James H. Harvey III, a retired United States Army Air Corps and Air Force officer, for a celebratory cruise to Alaska ahead of his milestone 100th birthday.
Lieutenant Colonel Harvey was part of a group of Black pilots who served with legendary distinction during World War II and shattered racial barriers in the US military.
Discovery Princess crew honors Harvey for his 100th birthday celebbration
The McChord Field Honor Guard welcomed Harvey and his family aboard Discovery Princess with a traditional USAF display of presenting colors. The ship’s crew presented 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 [of] 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!”
Lieutenant Colonel Harvey’s distinguished military career
Born in Montclair, New Jersey on July 13, 1923, Harvey is a former fighter pilot with the 332nd Fighter Group’s 99th Squadron, best known as the Tuskegee Airmen. As part of the “Red Tails,” he was one of 1,007 documented pilots trained for aerial combat during World War II.
Harvey is best known as the first Black USAF jet fighter combat pilot to fight in the Korean War, and flew 140 missions from 1949 to 1950. In 2006, Harvey—along with every member of the Tuskegee Airmen—received the prestigious Congressional Gold Medal.
In addition, Harvey won the USAF’s very first “Top Gun” competition in 1949, when he and his team led a grueling ten-day event including aerial gunnery at 20,000 and 12,000 feet, dive bombing, skip bombing, rocket 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 from the millitary. He joined Oscar Mayer as a corporate salesman and settled his family of four girls in Denver, Colorado where he still resides.
To hear more about Lieutenant Colonel Harvey’s service in his own words, click on the embedded video below.
Harvey will share his story with guests on Discovery Princess
During the voyage, Lieutenant Colonel 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 weeklong roundtrip cruises from Seattle to Alaska, departing each Sunday through September.
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