Press Releases

Rep. Katie Porter Post Office Ceremony Honors Orange County Tuskegee Airman

Congresswoman, veteran family remember late Lieutenant Colonel Robert Friend, keep his memory alive in Irvine

IRVINE—Congresswoman Katie Porter (D-CA) today hosted a post office naming ceremony in honor of the late Lieutenant Colonel Robert J. Friend, a longtime Orange County resident and one of the last surviving Tuskegee Airmen, who took to the skies during World War II as the first African-American military aviators. Lt. Col. Friend passed away in 2019, and Rep. Porter has been working to honor his memory.

“Lieutenant Colonel Friend’s story is one of selflessness and bravery. He never wavered from a challenge, which is why he remains an inspiration to all Americans,” Porter said at the ceremony. “I could not be prouder to memorialize his legacy in Orange County and to share this moment with his family here today.”

Porter was joined by Lt. Col. Friend’s family, as well as local elected officials, postal service leadership, and veteran advocates. During the ceremony, Porter and Lt. Col. Friend’s children unveiled a plaque installed at the post office at 1 League in Irvine.

Lt. Col. Friend’s 28 years in the military included flying 142 combat missions in Europe during World War II. He was the recipient of multiple awards for heroic service, including the Distinguished Flying Cross, Presidential Unit Citation, Bronze Star with Flying Cross, three Distinguished Service Medals, and Air Medal. In 2007, Lt. Col. Friend and his fellow Tuskegee Airmen were awarded the Congressional Gold Medal. 

Porter has been a consistent advocate for America’s veterans and military families. She is leading Congressional oversight efforts of toxic exposures for veterans and military families formerly stationed at Fort Ord, California. She has also spearheaded legislation to improve mental health care for servicemembers, their families, and veterans, and has fought for transparency and accountability in the VA Home Loan program. Earlier this month, she continued to press for public service loan forgiveness for workers at veteran service organizations (VSOs).