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Tuskegee Airman who flew 142 WWII combat missions and fought in Korea and Vietnam dies at 99
Lt. Col. Robert Friend was always glad to share his story with schoolkids — and what a story it was.
Friend, one of the last surviving Tuskegee Airmen, died Friday at age 99 at his Long Beach, Calif., home.
Not only did Friend fly 142 missions in the iconic black unit in the Army Air Corps, he went on to serve in the Korean and Vietnam wars.
Up until last year, Friend signed autographs and told his story at schools, his daughter Karen Crumlich told KCAL.
The men in his unit were trained at Tuskegee Army Air Field in Alabama, and were the first black aviators in the Air Corps. The airmen completed more than 15,000 missions in Europe and North Africa, and earned more than 150 Distinguished Flying Crosses.
Friend remained in the service when World War II ended, and wound up spending 28 years in the military.
He frequently visited the Palm Springs Air Museum, which restored a P-51 Mustang "Bunny" similar to the one flown by Friend during World War II.
"He was our guiding light," said Air Museum Director Fred Bell told The Desert Sun. "It will be a long time before there is another man like him."
He died of sepsis, surrounded by family and friends after they said a prayer, his daughter said.
"And during the prayer, right when we said 'amen,' he took his last breath," Crumlich told KCAL.
There were 992 Tuskegee Airmen who graduated the Tuskegee Army Air Field between 1942 and 1946, according to the Tuskegee Airmen National Historical Museum.
The Tuskegee Airmen Inc. said it's impossible to know exactly how many members from the program that ran March 22, 1941 to Nov. 5, 1949 are still alive, but there were but as of May 2019, there were 12 of 355 single-engine pilots who served in the Mediterranean theater operation during World War II still alive.
The ranks dropped by one on Friday, but Friend's daughter says she will "keep his legacy alive by telling his story to anyone who wants to hear it."
©2019 New York Daily News. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.
Once again, the United States and the Taliban are apparently close to striking a peace deal. Such a peace agreement has been rumored to be in the works longer than the latest "Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure" sequel. (The difference is Keanu Reeves has fewer f**ks to give than U.S. Special Representative for Afghanistan Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad.)
Both sides appeared to be close to reaching an agreement in September until the Taliban took credit for an attack that killed Army Sgt. 1st Class Elis A. Barreto Ortiz, of the 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division. That prompted President Donald Trump to angrily cancel a planned summit with the Taliban that had been scheduled to take place at Camp David, Maryland, on Sept. 8.
Now Taliban spokesman Suhail Shaheen has told a Pakistani newspaper that he is "optimistic" that the Taliban could reach an agreement with U.S. negotiators by the end of January.
75 years ago, Audie Murphy earned his Medal of Honor with nothing but a burning tank destroyer's .50 cal and insane bravery
Editor's note: a version of this post first appeared in 2018
On January 26, 1945, the most decorated U.S. service member of World War II earned his legacy in a fiery fashion.
Florida senators are pushing for Purple Hearts for service members wounded in the NAS Pensacola shooting
Florida's two senators are pushing the Defense Department to award Purple Hearts to the U.S. service members wounded in the December shooting at Naval Air Station Pensacola.
The Navy Department is in the middle of a new force-structure review, which could change the number and types of ships the sea services say they'll need to fight future conflicts. But instead of trying to project what they will need three decades out, which has been the case in past assessments, acting Navy Secretary Thomas Modly said the services will take a shorter view.
"I don't know what the threat's going to be 30 years from now, but if we're building a force structure for 30 years from now, I would suggest we're probably not building the right one," he said Friday at a National Defense Industrial Association event.
The Navy completed its last force-structure assessment in 2016. That 30-year plan called for a 355-ship fleet.
NEWPORT NEWS, Va. — The police officer killed during a traffic stop in Newport News on Thursday night was a well-liked young officer who just graduated from the police academy seven months ago, Police Chief Steve Drew said at a somber news conference Friday.