Retired U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Robert Friend, an original member of the iconic Tuskegee Airmen, passed away last Friday at the age of 99.
According to CBSLA, Friend succumbed to sepsis, but died surrounded by family and friends.
“My sister arrived, some friends arrived, and once everybody got there, we called the chaplain and we did a prayer,” Karen Crumlich, Friend’s daughter, said. “And during the prayer, right when we said amen, he took his last breath.”
According to Crumlich, her father worked up until last year, signing autographs and sharing his amazing story with school children.
Friend served in the military for 28 years, flying 142 combat missions during World War II and flying missions in the Korea and Vietnam Wars, CBSLA notes.
Most notably, of course, he was one of the last surviving members of the legendary Tuskegee Airmen, the elite group of Black pilots who fought for their country, only to be denied basic civil rights upon their return home.
CNN reports that Crumlich said that Friend will be buried with full military honors, likely during Independence Day weekend.