‘Hero’: One of last original Tuskegee Airmen dies at 99
Lt. Col. (Ret.) Robert “Bob” Friend, one of the last living original Tuskegee Airmen, died at age 99 on Friday.
After training at Alabama’s Tuskegee Institute (now Tuskegee University), Friend flew 142 combat missions in World War II. He served in the Air Force for a total of 28-years, including time in the Korean and Vietnam wars.
He was living in California at the time of his death and passed away at a hospital in Long Beach.
His daughter, Karen Friend Crumlich, told The Desert Sun, “My dad was my hero. He was always there for me and at the end I wanted to be there for him. He passed with family and dear friends surrounding him with love and affection.”
“He is truly a National Treasure who I will carry in my heart,” she added. “I promise to keep his legacy alive by telling his story to anyone who wants to hear it.”
Friend, in a 2017 interview, told The Desert Sun that he did not view himself as a man of color, not letting race define him.
“I never felt that I was anything but an American doing a job,” he said.
Friend’s death came less than two weeks after the 76th anniversary of the Tuskegee Airmen’s first battle during WWII.
Sean Ross is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn