World War II P-51 pilots Bob Friend and Jerry Yellin appear on the February 22, 2014 edition of Hometown Heroes, remembering some of their military experiences, and underscoring the importance of keeping the “Spirit of ’45” alive. The two nonagenarians participated in the Spirit of ’45 National Leadership Conference in San Diego, which happened to coincide with Yellin’s 90th birthday.
Yellin, author of several books borne out of his World War II service with the 78th Fighter Group, remembers participating in the last fighter plane mission of World War II, a mission that claimed the life of one of his closest friends. You’ll hear him share some of that story on Hometown Heroes, as well as the tale of how his life intersected with a Japanese kamikaze pilot in a very unique way. Yellin is the author of “Of War and Weddings,” “The Blackened Canteen,” and other books available on his website, JerryYellin.com. He is very passionate about America’s future, and believes educating our younger generations about our American history can be a very valuable resource.
93-year-old Bob Friend shares that passion, and he employs his inimitable smile and style in sharing the story of the Tuskegee Airmen. Friend flew 142 P-51 missions with the 332nd Fighter Group, protecting American bombers with the group of African-American pilots depicted in the recent George Lucas film “Red Tails.” Friend participated in the Civilian Pilot Training program before World War II, and also spent time showing off his athletic prowess with the New York Cubans, a baseball team that eventually participated in the Negro Leagues. Friend served as Operations Officer for the 332nd under Colonel Benjamin O. Davis, and shares a few of his World War II stories on this edition of Hometown Heroes.