Tuskegee Airman’s name lives on

An Irvine post office will be renamed in honor of a member of the famed Tuskegee Airmen.

The Northwood post office near Bryan Avenue and Culver Drive will be called Tuskegee Airman Lt. Col. Robert J. Friend Memorial Post Office Building. Friend resided in Irvine before he died in 2019, just months shy of his 100th birthday.

Friend served 28 years in the military. He flew 142 combat missions when he was stationed in Europe during World War II as a member of the all-Black “Red Tails” unit. He later oversaw the federal government’s secret study of unidentified flying objects.

He received the Congressional Gold Medal in 2007, as well as Distinguished Flying Cross, Presidential Unit Citation, Bronze Star with Flying Cross, Distinguished Service Medals and an Air Medal.