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Thread: Robin Olds, 10X Larger Than Life Hero, 1923-2007 (GDG)

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    Senior Member crackerd's Avatar
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    Default Robin Olds, 10X Larger Than Life Hero, 1923-2007 (GDG)

    Robin Olds, 84, Fighter Ace and Hero of Big Vietnam Battle, Dies

    By DOUGLAS MARTIN
    The New York Times
    Published: June 20, 2007


    Brig. Gen. Robin Olds, a World War II fighter ace who became an aviation legend by commanding the Air Force wing that shot down seven MIGs over North Vietnam in the biggest air battle of the Vietnam War, died last Thursday at his home in Steamboat Springs, Colo. He was 84.

    Col. Robin Olds of the Eighth Tactical Fighter Wing with subordinate officers on returning from his 100th mission over North Vietnam.
    The Air Force said the cause was congestive heart failure. He had earlier been treated for prostate cancer.

    General Olds, who in the course of a long career flew 65 kinds of military planes, almost perfectly filled the role of hotshot flier. Piloting P-38 Lightnings and P-51 Mustangs, he shot down 12 planes during World War II. In Vietnam, he led the Eighth Tactical Fighter Wing, which scored 24 such kills, an unsurpassed total for that conflict.

    In all, he downed 16 enemy aircraft in the two wars, making him a triple ace. (Five kills are needed to become an ace.) And when he could not wrangle a combat assignment in the Korean War, he participated in transcontinental jet races and flew with the Air Force’s first aerobatic demonstration team.

    Adding to his glamorous image, General Olds was a former all-American football player at West Point and the husband of a movie star, Ella Raines. In a gesture of individuality, he grew an enormous, meticulously waxed handlebar mustache. And even as a commanding officer, he made a point of placing himself on the flight schedule as a rookie pilot under officers his junior.

    But his greatest moment came on Jan. 2, 1967, when, as a colonel, he created an aerial trap for enemy MIGs. Called Operation Bolo, the trap entailed use of radar-jamming devices and other tactics to make faster, more maneuverable F-4s appear to be the slower F-105s used for bombing missions. When the MIGs responded by attacking what seemed to be F-105s, the F-4s downed seven of them.

    “The MIGs reacted as we had hoped,” Colonel Olds, who had led the mission himself, told a news conference in Saigon shortly afterward. “To make a wonderfully long story short, they lost.”

    The New York Times that May called him “everybody’s choice as the hottest pilot of the Vietnam War,” and last year the History Channel televised a computer animation, complete with his commentary, of his big Vietnam battle.

    General Olds went on to serve in many countries and positions, including assignments to Air Force headquarters and the Joint Chiefs of Staff. From 1967 to 1971, he was commandant of cadets at the Air Force Academy.

    At a time when the Air Force was focused on nuclear strategy, General Olds argued for strengthening conventional warfare capabilities. “Throughout his career, he was a staunch advocate for better fighters, better pilot training and new tactics, culminating in the war-winning air-to-air tactics and doctrine of surgical precision bombing that we use today,” Gen. T. Michael Moseley, Air Force chief of staff, said in a statement after General Olds’s death.

    Robin Olds was born on July 14, 1922, in Honolulu. His mother, Eloise, died when he was 4. His father, Maj. Gen. Robert Olds, a World War I combat pilot who helped devise the United States’ air-power strategy, reared him as a single parent.

    Robin first flew at age 8 in an open-cockpit biplane operated by his father. At 12, he vowed to attend West Point, where he hoped to play football and begin the path to becoming a military aviator. He did win admission, and played for the renowned coach Red Blaik, compiling so stellar a record as a tackle on both offense and defense that in 1985 he was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame.

    He was commissioned on June 1, 1943, and completed his pilot training later that year. He was assigned to the European theater, where he flew 107 missions and was credited with destruction of 11 ˝ aircraft on the ground — another pilot assisted in destroying one of them — in addition to the dozen he shot from the sky.

    After World War II, General Olds became one of the first Air Force pilots to fly jets. But partly because his manner of defiant individualism was a thorn in the side of superiors, he was unsuccessful in efforts to be assigned to Korea, and did not return to combat for 22 years.

    General Olds received many medals, including the Air Force Cross, the branch’s second-highest decoration. He pointed out on occasion that he had never received a Purple Heart, but he did come close.

    In March 1967, he led a strike against a steelworks in North Vietnam. He was flying so low, he said in an interview that year, that it seemed the gunners on roofs were shooting down at him. An enemy round tore a hole the size of a basketball in his right wing, but the fire went out and he made it home.

    For a brief time his father was married to Nina Gore Auchincloss, making General Olds a stepbrother of the writer Gore Vidal. His first wife, Miss Raines, a favorite pinup girl of the era, died in 1988. A later marriage, to Morgan Olds, ended in divorce. He is survived by two daughters, Christina Olds of Vail, Colo., and Susan Scott-Risner of North Bend, Wash.; a half-brother, Fred Olds of Virginia Beach; and a granddaughter, Jennifer Newman of Santa Monica, Calif.

    General Olds once said his magnificent mustache represented his defiance. It lasted until, as a colonel, he went to Washington after his service in Vietnam to meet the Air Force chief of staff, Gen. John P. McConnell. General McConnell stuck a finger under Colonel Olds’s nose and commanded, “Take it off.”

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    Senior Member subroc's Avatar
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    There is a series on the History Channel called Dogfights. They highlighted him and Operation Bolo on one of the episodes.

    It was good stuff.

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    There is a series on the History Channel called Dogfights. They highlighted him and Operation Bolo on one of the episodes.

    It was good stuff.
    Yes it was! Outstanding graphics, detail, and storytelling interlaced with real gun camera footage. Olds was one of a kind.

    The new season of "Dogfights" starts July 12 with 22 new episodes highlighting battles since the beginning of flight. My DVR sits at the ready!

    kg
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    Senior Member Hew's Avatar
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    The father of a good buddy flew F4's under Olds and Chappie James in Viet Nam (actually they flew out of Thailand I believe). My friend's dad had one of those hard-core fighter pilot personalities and said Olds and James were the two most impressive men he'd ever met and that he'd fly through the gates of hell behind them. My friend is named after Chappie James and his younger brother is named after Olds.

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    Senior Member Hew's Avatar
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    22 new episodes
    Excellent. That is a great show.

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    Senior Member crackerd's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hew
    Olds and James were the two most impressive men he'd ever met and that he'd fly through the gates of hell behind them. My friend is named after Chappie James and his younger brother is named after Olds.
    Hew, I flew through the gates of Trader Jon's with Gen. James a few times...beloved by all. And by the Tuskegee Airmen most of all.

    MG

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    Very cool. Bet he had some great stories. Were you living in P-Cola or stationed there? That's a great town.

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    Senior Member K G's Avatar
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    Check out this link:

    http://www.history.com/minisites/dogfights/

    I think the new season starts 7/13 rather than 7/12.....

    Several very good repeat episodes air before then: "Flying Tigers," "Guadalcanal," and "Death of the Japanese Navy." Record them if you can't sit down and watch if you are a warfare history buff....they are GREAT!

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    Senior Member badbullgator's Avatar
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    Dang, I thought Dogfights was about Mike Vick.
    Now I will have to watch.
    Views and opinions expressed herein by Badbullgator do not necessarily represent the policies or position of RTF. RTF and all of it's subsidiaries can not be held liable for the off centered humor and politically incorrect comments of the author.
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