In memory of
Lt. Col. Robert J. "Bob" Friend
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In memory of
Lt. Col. Robert J. "Bob" Friend
Lt. Col. Robert "Bob" J. Friend - - Tuskegee Airman Red Tail Combat Pilot Lt. Col. Robert "Bob" J. Friend (born Feb. 29, 1920) passed away from natural causes surrounded by family on June 21, 2019, just months shy of his 100th birthday. Born in Columbia, South Carolina, Bob's parents were William A. Friend from Quito, Ecuador and Nella Mae (Jones) Liner of South Carolina. Bob was interested in aviation from an early age. He read magazine stories about flying in World War I and built models that really flew. After Charles Lindberg advised our Government that in Europe, especially Germany, people were being taught to fly, the US decided to keep pace and instituted a program called Civilian Pilot Training, CPT. Bob joined the CPT as a sophomore at Lincoln University, Oxford, Pennsylvania. He earned a private pilot's license in 1939/40. At that time the US Army did not accept applications for military flight training from non-whites. However, at the insistence of First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt and others, a program was established at Tuskegee, Alabama to determine if non-whites could learn to fly the US Army's "complex" tactical aircraft. Bob Friend was accepted as an air cadet in the program in October 1942. Upon receiving his wings as a military pilot Bob was commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant and after several weeks of transition into tactical aircraft was assigned to the 332nd Fighter Group which was to be stationed in the European Theatre of Operations. Lt. Col. Friend became the primary wingman to Col. Benjamin O. Davis - Commander of the 332nd Fighter Group. Flying first the P-47, and then the P-51 for almost two years, Lt. Col. Friend flew 142 combat missions in the P-51 Mustang over Europe during World War II. Lt. Col. Friend also served as Operations Officer for the 301st squadron and was the last Operations Officer of the 332nd fighter group. He also served in Korea and Vietnam. He was the Recipient of the Congressional Gold Medal (2007); Distinguished Flying Cross, Presidential Unit Citation, Bronze Star with Flying Cross; 3 Distinguished Service Medals, and an Air Medal. After retiring from the Air Force in 1972, Lt. Col. Friend became the Assistant to the President for Fairchild Stratus Companies in Manhattan Beach, California, overseeing the design and production of space products for the space shuttle. In his third career he remained Executive Vice President for the Stanford Mu Corporation in Los Angeles, California, which is a company that produces primary space components for the International Space Station and other Satellite Systems. Lt. Col. Friend was involved in Research and Development Activities for over fifty years responsible for formulating, monitoring, evaluating, and controlling programs and projects for scientific and technological application to meet USAF Special Weapons Fire Control Systems and Major Missile Systems strategic and tactical requirements. During his career, Lt. Col. Friend obtained a degree in Astro Physics under the Air Force Institute of Technology and received advanced management degrees from UCLA Graduate Business School and the US Air Force Program Management Course, Special Weapons School and Air War College. In retirement, Lt. Col. Friend spent his time traveling and speaking at different events about his experiences as a pilot with the Tuskegee Airmen Red Tails. He was involved with the Palm Springs Air Museum and its flight program restoring a P-51D Mustang to flying status. The aircraft is painted with the markings that match those from Lt. Col. Friend's P-51 during the war. Friend also participated with other charities, including events with Ride 2 Recovery, which supports all veterans coming home helping to get them back on the right road. Lt. Col. Friend resided in Irvine, California. He was married to Doris "Bunny" Hall and Kathryn Ann Dorsey before marrying Anna Rice, to whom he was married 51 years, when she died in 2010. He is survived by children Thelma Hoffman, Robert J. Friend, Jr., Michael D. Friend, Debra D. Carter, Dana A. Friend, Clara Ann Browning, and Karen E. Crumlich. His son Darry R. Friend died in 2002 while on active duty. He is also survived by 19 grandchildren, 31 great-grandchildren, and 19 great-great grandchildren. At his death, he was one of 12 surviving Red Tail Pilots. Lt. Col. Friend was a master bridge player, well known and respected nationally, and competed in national tournaments in his spare time. A public viewing and memorial will be held for Lt. Col. Friend at the Palm Springs Air Museum, 745 N. Gene Autry Trail, Palm Springs, CA 92262. The Public Viewing will be held on Saturday, July 6 from 12 noon to 5 pm. The Public Memorial will be held on Sunday, July 7 at 11 am. In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations be made to The Palm Springs Air Museum: https://PalmSpringsAirMuseum.org/donate
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In memory of
Lt. Col. Robert J. "Bob" Friend
Lt. Col. Robert "Bob" J. Friend - - Tuskegee Airman Red Tail Combat Pilot Lt. Col. Robert "Bob" J. Friend (born Feb. 29, 1920) passed away from natural causes surrounded by family on June 21, 2019, just months shy of his 100th birthday. Born in Columbia, South Carolina, Bob's parents were William A. Friend from Quito, Ecuador and Nella Mae (Jones) Liner of South Carolina. Bob was interested in aviation from an early age. He read magazine stories about flying in World War I and built models that really flew. After Charles Lindberg advised our Government that in Europe, especially Germany, people were being taught to fly, the US decided to keep pace and instituted a program called Civilian Pilot Training, CPT. Bob joined the CPT as a sophomore at Lincoln University, Oxford, Pennsylvania. He earned a private pilot's license in 1939/40. At that time the US Army did not accept applications for military flight training from non-whites. However, at the insistence of First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt and others, a program was established at Tuskegee, Alabama to determine if non-whites could learn to fly the US Army's "complex" tactical aircraft. Bob Friend was accepted as an air cadet in the program in October 1942. Upon receiving his wings as a military pilot Bob was commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant and after several weeks of transition into tactical aircraft was assigned to the 332nd Fighter Group which was to be stationed in the European Theatre of Operations. Lt. Col. Friend became the primary wingman to Col. Benjamin O. Davis - Commander of the 332nd Fighter Group. Flying first the P-47, and then the P-51 for almost two years, Lt. Col. Friend flew 142 combat missions in the P-51 Mustang over Europe during World War II. Lt. Col. Friend also served as Operations Officer for the 301st squadron and was the last Operations Officer of the 332nd fighter group. He also served in Korea and Vietnam. He was the Recipient of the Congressional Gold Medal (2007); Distinguished Flying Cross, Presidential Unit Citation, Bronze Star with Flying Cross; 3 Distinguished Service Medals, and an Air Medal. After retiring from the Air Force in 1972, Lt. Col. Friend became the Assistant to the President for Fairchild Stratus Companies in Manhattan Beach, California, overseeing the design and production of space products for the space shuttle. In his third career he remained Executive Vice President for the Stanford Mu Corporation in Los Angeles, California, which is a company that produces primary space components for the International Space Station and other Satellite Systems. Lt. Col. Friend was involved in Research and Development Activities for over fifty years responsible for formulating, monitoring, evaluating, and controlling programs and projects for scientific and technological application to meet USAF Special Weapons Fire Control Systems and Major Missile Systems strategic and tactical requirements. During his career, Lt. Col. Friend obtained a degree in Astro Physics under the Air Force Institute of Technology and received advanced management degrees from UCLA Graduate Business School and the US Air Force Program Management Course, Special Weapons School and Air War College. In retirement, Lt. Col. Friend spent his time traveling and speaking at different events about his experiences as a pilot with the Tuskegee Airmen Red Tails. He was involved with the Palm Springs Air Museum and its flight program restoring a P-51D Mustang to flying status. The aircraft is painted with the markings that match those from Lt. Col. Friend's P-51 during the war. Friend also participated with other charities, including events with Ride 2 Recovery, which supports all veterans coming home helping to get them back on the right road. Lt. Col. Friend resided in Irvine, California. He was married to Doris "Bunny" Hall and Kathryn Ann Dorsey before marrying Anna Rice, to whom he was married 51 years, when she died in 2010. He is survived by children Thelma Hoffman, Robert J. Friend, Jr., Michael D. Friend, Debra D. Carter, Dana A. Friend, Clara Ann Browning, and Karen E. Crumlich. His son Darry R. Friend died in 2002 while on active duty. He is also survived by 19 grandchildren, 31 great-grandchildren, and 19 great-great grandchildren. At his death, he was one of 12 surviving Red Tail Pilots. Lt. Col. Friend was a master bridge player, well known and respected nationally, and competed in national tournaments in his spare time. A public viewing and memorial will be held for Lt. Col. Friend at the Palm Springs Air Museum, 745 N. Gene Autry Trail, Palm Springs, CA 92262. The Public Viewing will be held on Saturday, July 6 from 12 noon to 5 pm. The Public Memorial will be held on Sunday, July 7 at 11 am. In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations be made to The Palm Springs Air Museum: https://PalmSpringsAirMuseum.org/donate
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