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McKee was born on September 19, 1921 in Southern Oklahoma. As was the case in most births in those days, he was born on the farm. He submitted his application for Army flight cadet training on his birthday in 1941 and was awaiting the official response when Pearl Harbor was attacked. He was ordered to Tinker Field in Oklahoma City in order to take his physical, which he passed, and then report for pilot's training. McKee passed a 2 year equivalent college exam for entrance into the pilot training program even though he had only attended college for one semester at Southwestern Tech. He was told to wait for call up and went to the post office on December 7th to see if his call up papers had arrived. Later in the evening on that day he turned on the radio and heard the news of the attack on Pearl Harbor. He assumed that he would be called up for service immediately, but as it turned out he was not called for duty until February 21, 1942.McKee's initial assignment was to Santa Anna, California where his order for pilot's training was ignored. He was selected for navigator training and he was sent to Mather Field in Sacramento, California for navigator's training; he graduated there on September 5, 1942 and was assigned to Salt Lake City to a replacement center; from there he was sent to Boise, Idaho. In Boise, McKee was assigned to a heavy bomber crew. For his second phase of crew training he was sent to San Antonio, Texas and then to Rapids City, South Dakota. Fourth Phase training was at Smoky Hill Field in Salinas, Kansas. McKee and his crew received their first aircraft in Topeka, Kansas.His provisional group was originally assigned to North Africa in Oran. After travels through South America, his crew left Brazil for their destination of Bathurst, New Gambia [AnnotatorÂ’s Note: now Banjul, Republic of The Gambia]. On the flight across the Atlantic McKee learned to trust celestial navigation as it was his job to get his crew to their destination. From Bathurst, McKee and his crew went to Marrakech, Morocco. His crew was reassigned to the 8th Air Force in England. On the 22nd or 23rd of February his crew arrived at Chelveston, England where they were absorbed into the 305th Bomb Group.Part of the procedure in the 8th Air Force at that time was for a new first pilot of a new crew to fly as co-pilot with an experienced crew in order to break the new pilot in. McKee's pilot apparently left the group and his crew was broken up; McKee was assigned to a crew that had already flown 7 missions.
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