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One Of The Last Surviving Tuskegee Airmen Dies Surrounded By Family

LONG BEACH (CBSLA) — Lt. Col. Robert Friend flew 142 combat missions in World War II.

Friend was one of the last surviving Tuskegee Airmen, an elite group of African-American military pilots who fought the Nazis abroad only to face racism once they returned to America.

"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."

Crumlich said her father was working up until last year, signing autographs and speaking to school kids sharing his story.

That story included a 28-year-career in the military where, along with fighting in WWII, he flew missions in the Korea and Vietnam wars.

Friend died of sepsis. He was 99 years old.

Public services will likely be held the weekend of July 4.

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