Air Group One BBQ & General Member Meeting
Special guest Speakers...
Bob Friend & Nelson Robinson
The history and legacy of the Tuskegee Airmen is inspirational to people of all ages. Their life lessons can impart a special meaning for people from all walks of life. From a child in awe of a red-tailed airplane, to the elderly veteran full of gratitude for their fellow war heroes, there is something in each of their stories that can inspire us all to live better, fuller and braver lives.
One such hero is Robert Friend, one of the oldest living original Tuskegee Airmen pilots. Born in Columbia, South Carolina in 1920, Friend was interested in aviation from a young age. He read stories of World War I pilots in old magazines and made his own makeshift airplanes for imaginative play. Friend had wanted to enlist in the Army to fly for our country, but was turned away. Even though the country was making preparations for war, black Americans could not join the Armed Forces to serve as pilots.
Another such here is Nelson Robinson. At 17 years of age, and serving as a cadet in the Civil Air Patrol, Nelson voluntarily enlisted in the United States Army Air Corps (USAAC) at Smokey Hill AAB, Salina Kansas, in February 28, 1946. He began Basic Training at Shepherd AAB, Texas and finished at Scott Field, Illinois. He then completed aircraft mechanics school at Keelser Field, Mississippi and P-47 fighter aircraft specialist school at Chanute Field, Illinois. He was then assigned to Lockbourne Army Air Base, Columbus, OH; an all-black military base which was commanded then by Colonel Benjamin O. Davis, Jr. At Lockbourne, Nelson was assigned as a P-47N (Jug) fighter aircraft, flight line “Crew Chief,” in the famous all-black 99th Fighter Squadron of the 477th Composite Group & the 332nd Fighter Group known formally as the “Tuskegee Airmen,” which Nelson proudly was.