World War II pilot Robert Friend, one of the last original members of the famed all-black Tuskegee Airmen, has died at the age of 99.
Friend’s daughter, Karen Friend Crumlich, told The Desert Sun her father died Friday at a Southern California hospital.
Born in South Carolina on 1920’s leap day, Friend flew 142 combat missions in World War II as part of the elite group of fighter pilots trained at Alabama’s Tuskegee Institute. The program was created after the NAACP began challenging policies barring black people from flying military aircraft.
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