Olds, Robin

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Olds, Robin, born 14-07-1922 in Honolulu, Hawaii, was an American WWII fighter pilot and later General Officer in the U.S. Air Force. He was a “triple ace”, with a combined total of 16 victories in World War II and the Vietnam War. He retired in 1973 as a Brigadier General. The son of regular Army Major General Robert Olds,   he died of pericardial disease on 28-04-1943, age 46, in Tucson, educated at West Point, and the product of an upbringing in the early years of the U.S. Army Air Corps, Olds epitomized the youthful World War II fighter pilot. He remained in the service as it became the United States Air Force, despite often being at odds with its leadership, and was one of its pioneer jet pilots. Rising to command of two fighter wings , Olds is regarded among aviation historians and his peers as the best wing commander of the Vietnam War, both for his air-fighting skills and his reputation as a combat leader. Olds was promoted to Brigadier General after returning from Vietnam but did not hold another major command. The remainder of his career was spent in non-operational positions, as Commandant of Cadets at the United States Air Force Academy and as an official in the Air Force Inspector General’s Office. His inability to rise higher as a general officer is attributed to both his maverick views and his penchant for drinking. Olds had a highly publicized career and life, including marriage to Hollywood actress Ella Raines,

  she died age 67 on 30-05-1988, in Snoqualme Falls, Washington. As a young man Olds was also recognized for his athletic prowess in both high school and college, being named an All American for his play as a lineman in American football. Olds expressed his philosophy regarding fighter pilots in the quote: “There are pilots and there are pilots; with the good ones, it is inborn. You can’t teach it. If you are a fighter pilot, you have to be willing to take risks.”  Lieutenant Olds completed fighter pilot training with the 329th Fighter Group , based at Grand Central Air Terminal in Glendale, California. His initial twin-engine training at Williams Field, Arizona, was in the Curtiss AT-9, followed by transition training to the P-38 in its P-322 variant. After gunnery training at Matagorda, Texas in the first half of August 1943, he was assigned to P-38 phase training at Muroc Army Air Field, California. In early 1944 he became part of the cadre assigned to build up the newly activated 434th Fighter Squadron  and its parent 479th Fighter Group , based at Lomita, California. Olds logged 650 hours of flying time during training, including 250 hours in the P-38 Lightning, as the 479th built its proficiency as a combat group. It departed the Los Angeles area on April 15 for Camp Kilmer, New Jersey, and shipped aboard the USS Argentina for Europe on May 3. The 479th arrived in Scotland on 14-05-1944, and entrained for RAF Wattisham, England, where it arrived the next day. The 479th began combat on May 26, flying bomber escort missions and attacking transportation targets in occupied France in advance of the invasion of Normandy. Olds flew a new P-38J Lightning that he nicknamed “Scat II”. Olds’ crew chief, T/Sgt. Glen Allen Wold,  said that he showed an immediate interest in aircraft maintenance and learned emergency servicing under Wold. He also insisted his aircraft be waxed to reduce air resistance and helped his maintenance crew carry out their tasks. On July 24 Olds was promoted to captain and became a flight and later squadron leader. Following a low-level bridge-bombing mission to Montmirail, France, on August 14, Olds shot down his first German aircraft, a pair of Focke-Wulf Fw 190s. Promoted to major on February 9, 1945, Olds claimed his seventh victory southeast of Magdeburg, Germany the same day, downing another Bf 109. On February 14, he claimed three victories, two Bf 109s and an Fw 190, but the latter was later changed to a “probable”. Olds had not only risen in rank to field grade but was given command of his squadron on March 25, less than two years out of West Point and at only 22 years of age. By the end of his combat service he was officially credited with 12 German planes shot down and 11.5 others destroyed on the ground. Later on 30-09-1966, Olds took command of the 8th Tactical Fighter Wing, based at Ubon Royal Thai Air Force Base and became a Brigadier General. on 21-07-2001, Olds was enshrined at Dayton, Ohio, in the National Aviation Hall of Fame class of 2001, along with test pilot Joseph H. Engle,  Marine Corps ace Marion Eugen Carl He became the only person enshrined in both the National Aviation Hall of Fame and the College Football Hall of Fame. In March 2007 Olds was hospitalized in Colorado for complications of Stage 4 prostate cancer.

Death and burial ground of Olds, Robin.

     On the evening of June 14-06-2007, General Olds died from congestive heart failure in Steamboat Springs, Colorado, old age 84. Olds was honored with a flyover and services at the United States Air Force Academy Colorado, on June 30, where his ashes will be kept.

 

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