SAVANNAH, GA (WTOC) - He was a pilot with the Tuskegee Airmen, the nation's first African-American military pilot group during World War II.
From there his career took off and retired Lt. Col. Robert Friend is still going strong, looking to serve his country by sharing his story Monday with children in Pooler.
One of the last living Tuskegee Airmen, 97-year-old retired Lt. Col. Friend stopped by Pooler Elementary School to answer questions about his life.
When asked if he was afraid to fly a plane, Friend responded, "Too dumb to be afraid."
Friend flew 142 combat missions in World War II as a pilot for the all black soldier, Red Tail Squadron.
"The only thing I wanted to do was win the war and protect this country," he said.
The history and legacy of the Tuskegee Airmen are inspirational to people of all ages. The six guiding principles of the Red Tail Squadron: Aim high, use your brain, believe in yourself, be ready to go, expect to win and never quit are life lessons these children and all of us can use.
[Below is a brief history of the Red Tail Squadron provided by the Smithsonian's official YouTube channel.]
"Don't go in with a defeatist attitude and believe you can do something and you will," Friend said.
At 97, Friend is still going strong. Later this month, he will take part in "The Road to Recovery" to raise money for veterans who have been injured or wounded.
"Do the things you can and some that you can't," Friend said.
Friend served 30 years in the U.S. Army Air Corps. His career with the Air Force included serving as Assistant Deputy of Launch Vehicles, working on important space launch vehicles such as the Titan, Atlas and Delta rockets and the Space Shuttle.
Friend was also appointed the head of Project Blue Book in 1958 until 1963, which tracked UFO's.
Watch the extended interview with retired Lt. Col. Robert Friend below: