Press Releases

Rep. Porter Introduces Legislation to Honor Orange County Tuskegee Airman

Congresswoman’s bill would memorialize Lieutenant Colonel Robert J. Friend as name of his local post office

Irvine, January 30, 2020

IRVINE—Congresswoman Katie Porter introduced a bill to name a post office for Orange County veteran Lieutenant Colonel Robert J. Friend. 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.

“Lieutenant Colonel Robert J. Friend was an American hero, who served our country bravely and selflessly,” Congresswoman Porter said. “Lt. Col. Friend and his fellow Tuskegee Airmen were trailblazers, and I’m honored to introduce legislation that would keep his memory alive in our Orange County community for generations to come.”

“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.  

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