Press Releases

Reintroduced Porter Legislation Will Honor Orange County Tuskegee Airman

During Black History Month, Congresswoman renews push on bill to memorialize Lieutenant Colonel Robert J. Friend as name of his local post office

Congresswoman Katie Porter (CA-45) reintroduced a bill this week to honor Orange County veteran Lieutenant Colonel Robert J. Friend by naming a local post office for him. Before passing away in June 2019, Lt. Col. Friend was one of the last surviving Tuskegee Airmen, who took to the skies during World War II as the first African-American military aviators. He also served in Korea and Vietnam.

“During Black History Month, we celebrate the incredible achievements of Black Americans throughout our nation’s history—trailblazers like Lieutenant Colonel Robert J. Friend and his fellow Tuskegee Airmen,” Congresswoman Porter said. “Lt. Col. Friend served our country bravely and selflessly, and I’m proud to renew my push to honor him in our Orange County community.”

“Our father would often say, ‘Don’t wait for opportunities, make your own opportunities,’” said Karen Crumlich, Lt. Col. Friend’s daughter. “Our family is truly honored to have his name memorialized so that his legacy can live on for future generations. If he was living today, he would have felt that this honor was beyond what he deserved because he felt that he was just doing his duty as an American citizen.”

Congresswoman Porter’s bill would designate the Northwood Post Office located at 1 League, Irvine, California as the “Tuskegee Airman Lieutenant Colonel Robert J. Friend Memorial Post Office Building.” Lt. Col. Friend was the recipient of multiple military awards for heroic service, including the Distinguished Flying Cross, Presidential Unit Citation, Bronze Star with Flying Cross, three Distinguished Service Medals, and Air Medal.

The roughly 1,000 Tuskegee Airmen flew 15,000 combat sorties, destroyed 260 enemy aircraft and received 150 decorations of the Flying Cross and Legion of Merit, fighting the Nazi Luftwaffe while simultaneous striking a blow against racism back home. Lt. Col. Friend and his fellow Tuskegee airmen were awarded the Congressional Gold Medal in 2007.