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WWII Red Tail Fighter Tom Friend Receives Hero Medal At The Coliseum

Tom Friend

Tom Friend

By Earl Heath

Lt. Col Robert J. Friend is the ultimate Veteran having served his country during WWII. A brief overview of his life goes like this:

Robert J. Friend was born in Columbia, South Carolina on February 28, 1920.  In 1939, he became a student at Lincoln University in Pennsylvania, where he earned a private pilot certificate in the Civilian Pilot Training Program.  In 1942, Mr. Friend joined the Air Force and was sent to Tuskegee Institute for pilot training.

After receiving his wings as an Air Force Pilot, Mr. Friend was promoted to a Lieutenant and at that time was assigned to the 332nd Fighter Group as a pilot under Col. B.O. Davis, Jr.  He was then sent to Schlfridge Air Force Base in Michigan for flight tactical aircraft transition before his combat tour.  In 1943, Lieutenant Friend reported to the European Theatre of War as a member of Tuskegee Airmen’s Distinguished 322nd Group, which was a Fighter Pilot Organization.  As a skillful pilot of the P47 and P51 single engine planes, Lieutenant Friend flew as the wing man for the Commander of the group, Col. B.O. Davis.  Lt. Col. Friend also served as Combat Operations Officer at the Squadron and Group levels.

Friend in 2015 turning 95 years old, holding the record as one of the oldest living original Tuskegee Airmen. President Barak Obama, former President George W. Bush and General Mark Welsh III of the United States Air Force acknowledged the occasion by sending their personal birthday wishes to Friend.

“On behalf of the men and women of the United States Air Force, happy 95th birthday! You belong to a treasured generation of selfless Airmen and your service continues to inspire our Airmen today. The Tuskegee Airmen, especially Red Tail pilots, proved time and time again to be among the most courageous trailblazers of America’s “Greatest Generation,” and we celebrate your role in that elite group.”-General Welsh

This year Friend was recognized at A USC  home game a Hero.inf front of 90.000 at the LA Coliseum.t. Col. Friend is a master bridge player who is well known and respected nationally, and often competes in national tournaments in his spare time. 

Lt. Col. Friend resides in Irvine California.  He has 7 children and numerous grand, great-grand, great-great grandchildren.


Covered California Begins Open Enrollment With Expanded Coverage And Lower Costs For Doctor Visits

LOS ANGELES, CA- Elaine Young spent 20 years teaching students with special needs in Los Angeles before she learned an important lesson — that her retirement benefits did not include health insurance.

“Because I worked six hours a day, my position was considered part time, and my 20 years was only equal to eight to 10 years full time,” Young, 62, recalled. While stunned by the revelation, Young was still determined to retire and put her health insurance issues “in God’s hands.”

Her prayers, she said, were answered last June when she enrolled in a health insurance plan through Covered California, the state agency that helps Californians get name-brand coverage through the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act — commonly known as Obamacare.

“I absolutely love it. And I would highly recommend it to anyone who does not have health insurance,” Young said.

The fourth open-enrollment period under the Affordable Care Act is underway and continues through Jan. 31, 2017. Californians like Young who need health insurance will find new ways to shop for coverage and new ways to save.

It’s this kind of information that Covered California is spreading statewide during its third annual bus tour. The tour will wind its way from San Diego to northern California starting Nov. 12, stopping at 26 locations in 11 counties and 21 cities over eight days.

The message is clear, says Covered California Executive Director Peter V. Lee. “California has built a robust marketplace where insurers are competing for consumers and where there is financial help to buy top-quality insurance.”

More than 92 percent of consumers will have three or more health plans to choose from, and none will have fewer than two, Lee said. He called out Los Angeles County, the Inland Empire, Sacramento County and the Bay Area as having large African-

American populations who can benefit from increased coverage and services.

Young receives a subsidy that pays for all but $75 of the $500 monthly premium she would normally be charged.

“I didn’t lose any of my benefits,” said Young, whose coverage began in July after her school district-sponsored coverage expired in June. “There was no lapse in coverage. I’m still with Kaiser and I have my same doctor,” she said.

For 2017, most consumers can save up to $55 per urgent care visit and their copays for seeing their primary care doctor will also be lower.

And, for consumers selecting Silver, Gold or Platinum plans, most of their outpatient services like primary care and specialist visits, lab tests, X-rays and imaging are not subject to a deductible. Emergency room visits for these plans are now a flat fee.

Even consumers in Covered California’s most affordable Bronze plans are able to see their doctor or a specialist three times without having to meet their deductible.

These changes for 2017 can help consumers save thousands of dollars.

“We know health care is expensive, so we took steps to make sure consumers who do buy coverage get the care they need without having to first meet their full deductible,” Lee said.

Approximately 1.4 million people, about 2.5 percent whom are African American, now have coverage through Covered California. Meanwhile, tens of thousands more African-Americans in California remain uninsured, yet most are eligible for thousands of dollars in federal subsidies to help them pay their monthly premiums.

In Los Angeles, enrollment centers are located on the upper level of Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza and at Price Chapel AME Church on 4000 W. Slauson Ave. at Alviso Avenue. Visit CoveredCA.com to find more locations.

Options For Youth Received The Barona Band Of Mission Indians Educational Grant Award

VICTOR VALLEY, CA- Options for Youth (OFY) Victor Valley Region received the Barona Band of Mission Indians Educational Grant Award on November 1 at the Holiday Inn Victorville.  During the Senior Breakfast, Rebecca Tennison from the 21stDistrict presented Charles Pak, OFY Director of Instructional Operations, with the grant.

On behalf of the 21st Senate District, the late state Senator Sharon Runner nominated OFY shortly before her death.  It was the only school Runner’s office recommended for the award this year.  The $5,000 grant is given to help selected schools provide materials, including books and computers, and to promote the academic improvement of students statewide.

“Barona has sought after my recommendation for a deserving school in our district; consequently, we have numerous outstanding schools in need in our district,” Runner, R-Lancaster, said in an official letter to OFY. “However, OFY stood out above the many due to the dedication and commitment displayed by OFY leadership, faculty, and staff, as well as the undeniable challenges overcome by your amazing students.”

Runner said that she and her staff “worked diligently with local schools” this past spring semester to ensure high school seniors were informed of state and federal funds available to them through the Cash for College program.  “This is where we witnessed first-hand the genuine great works and remarkable results of OFY.”

Pak said, “OFY is very grateful for the late Senator Sharon Runner’s nomination for the grant.   We are also thankful for the continued support from loyal community members such as the Barona Band of Mission Indians. This generous grant will be used to help fund materials that promote academic improvement and that will benefit current and future students, including books and computers.”