Robin Olds
United States Air Force general
Robin Olds
Robin Olds was an American fighter pilot and 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 Maj. Gen. Robert Olds, 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.
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The Press Democrat, Santa Rosa, Calif., Chris Smith column - Middle East North Africa Financial Network
Google News - over 5 years
He was Robin Olds, one of the world's greatest fighter pilots. The boldly mustachioed West Point graduate flew 107 combat missions in World War II and, 20 years later, taught and inspired younger pilots while leading 152 missions in Vietnam
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Ace fighter pilot's daughter and biographer lives here now, can't wait for the ... - Santa Rosa Press Democrat
Google News - over 5 years
By Chris Smith/The Press Democrat If the name Robin Olds means something to you, perhaps you've read up on the boldy mustachioed triple-ace fighter pilot who flew 107 combat missions in World War II and, 20 years later, fired up and mentored younger
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Balance in science coverage, new health funds - (press release)
Google News - over 5 years
Chief Executive Robin Olds was impressed by the quality of successful applications, stating: "We are supporting some very exciting studies this year, which reflect the very high calibre of New Zealand health research." The full list of funded projects
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UC-led project receives major funding boost - (press release)
Google News - over 5 years
Such information is important, said Professor Woodward, to help ensure clinical interventions optimise brain development and child outcomes during the educationally crucial preschool and primary school years. HRC Chief Executive Dr Robin Olds said the
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$4m boosts quake stress study - Star Canterbury
Google News - over 5 years
Around half of the study cohort was not in Christchurch at the time of the quake, allowing vital comparisons to be made between those that directly experienced the disaster and those that did not,"explained HRC chief executive Dr Robin Olds
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Commentary - Robin Olds: Wolf Pack hero, legacy - Sourdough Sentinel
Google News - over 5 years
7/14/2011 - KUNSAN AIR BASE, Republic of Korea -- This historian is hardly the first to declare Robin Olds as the greatest aerial warrior and leader in American history. When learning about his life, it is as if our Creator was making the perfect
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Fighter Pilot: the memoirs of legendary ace Robin Olds — book review - Seattle Post Intelligencer (blog)
Google News - over 5 years
Fighter Pilot: the memoirs of legendary ace Robin Olds, Robin Olds with Christina Olds and Ed Rasimus, 2010, ISBN 978-0-312-56023-2, 400 pp. Robin Olds lived a life marked by all three of the above. He had a full life with both good and bad experiences
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'Bedford Array' May Have F-35C Uses After All -
Google News - over 5 years
Brigadier General Robin Olds, USAF. The first part of your quote - only - is a proper quote - the last half of the purported quote in BOLD is NOT. You have misunderstood what the Bedford Array is all about. As stated in the above article and I'll
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On the Bookshelf: What developer Jack Scheidler is reading - Bowling Green Daily News
Google News - over 5 years
Two titles about military heroes Sheidler recommends are “American Patriot: The Life and Wars of Colonel Bud Day,” by Robert Coram, a biography of the most decorated living American veteran; and “Fighter Pilot: The Memoirs of Legendary Ace Robin Olds,”
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Secretary Donley congratulates new officers at Academy commencement - Maxwell-Gunter Air Force Base
Google News - almost 6 years
"Know that we are proud of you, that General Schwartz and the rest of our leadership team are committed to your future success, and that there's no Air Force leader, past or present -- not even General (Robin) Olds himself, were he alive today -- who
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HRC funding announced for top emerging health researchers - New Zealand Doctor Online
Google News - almost 6 years
"I am very pleased that we are once again able to support this country's greatest young research talent in this way," says HRC's Chief Executive, Dr Robin Olds. These young people are outstanding in their respective research fields and with these
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Robin Olds, 84, Fighter Ace; Hero of Big Vietnam Battle
NYTimes - over 9 years
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. The Air Force said the cause was congestive heart failure. He had earlier
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Ella Raines, a Star of Westerns And Dramas in the 40's, Dies at 67
NYTimes - over 28 years
LEAD: Ella Raines, an actress who starred in film dramas, comedies and westerns during the 1940's, died of throat cancer May 30 in Los Angeles. She was 67 years old. Ella Raines, an actress who starred in film dramas, comedies and westerns during the 1940's, died of throat cancer May 30 in Los Angeles. She was 67 years old. Ms. Raines's film career
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11 Named to College Football Hall
NYTimes - about 32 years
Paul Hornung of Notre Dame and a fellow Heisman Trophy winner, Mike Garrett of Southern Cal, were among 11 former players named yesterday to the National Football Foundation's College Hall of Fame. Also selected for induction Dec. 3 were Doug Atkins, the former Tennessee lineman; George Brown, the former Navy and San Diego State guard; Bill Glass,
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Learn about memorable moments in the evolution of Robin Olds
  • 2007
    Age 84
    On the evening of June 14, 2007, General Olds died from congestive heart failure in Steamboat Springs, Colorado.
    More Details Hide Details Olds was honored with a flyover and services at the United States Air Force Academy on June 30, where his ashes are kept. General Olds is remembered as the Class Exemplar of the Academy Class of 2011, which had begun Basic Cadet Training, the first step towards becoming Air Force officers, two days before Olds' funeral. Notes Bibliography Online
  • 2006
    Age 83
    The History Channel, in its series Dogfights, recreated Operation Bolo using a computer animation for an episode entitled "Air Ambush", first telecast on November 10, 2006.
    More Details Hide Details Olds, then 84 years old, appeared as a commentator, and as background, dogfights he experienced as a P-38 pilot were also recreated.
  • 2005
    Age 82
    In his retirement at Steamboat Springs, Colorado, Olds pursued his love of skiing and served on the city's planning commission. He was active in public speaking, making 21 events as late in his life as 2005 and 13 in 2006.
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  • 2001
    Age 78
    Olds' fondness for alcohol was well known. John Darrell Sherwood, in his book Fast Movers: Jet Pilots and the Vietnam Experience, posits that Olds' heavy drinking hurt his post-Vietnam career. On July 12, 2001, Olds was arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol and resisting arrest near his home in Steamboat Springs.
    More Details Hide Details Olds, briefly hospitalized during the incident for facial cuts, pleaded guilty in return for charges of weaving and felony vehicular eluding being dropped. Olds was placed on one year probation, and ordered to pay almost $900 in fines and costs, attend an alcohol education course, and perform 72 hours of community service. Days later, on July 21, 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 E. Carl, and Albert Lee Ueltschi. 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.
  • 1973
    Age 50
    Olds decided to leave the Air Force when the offer was refused (he was offered another inspection tour instead) and he retired on June 1, 1973.
    More Details Hide Details Robin Olds' ribbons as they appeared at retirement. Small Arms Expert Marksmanship Ribbon British Distinguished Flying Cross French Croix de Guerre with silver star Vietnam Air Force Distinguished Service Order, 2nd Class Vietnam Air Gallantry Cross Vietnam Air Force Meritorious Service Medal Vietnam Gallantry Cross Unit Citation Vietnam Campaign Medal
  • 1971
    Age 48
    Air Force Inspector General and Olds' West Point classmate Lt Gen Louis L. Wilson, Jr., sent Olds to Southeast Asia in the autumn of 1971 to determine the state of readiness of Air Force pilots.
    More Details Hide Details Olds toured USAF bases in Thailand (flying several unauthorized combat missions in the process) and brought back a blunt assessment. Air Force pilots, he reported to the Air Force Chief of Staff, Gen John D. Ryan (a former SAC general and bomber pilot often at odds with the tactical fighter community), " couldn't fight their way out of a wet paper bag," because of a systemic lack of interest by the USAF in air-to-air combat training for fighter crews. He warned that losses would be severe in any resumption of aerial combat. Olds recalled that Ryan expressed surprise at this assessment and reflected his disagreement. When Operation Linebacker began in May 1972, American fighter jets returned to the offense in the skies over North Vietnam for the first time in nearly four years. Navy and Marine Corps fighters, reaping the benefits of their TOPGUN program, immediately enjoyed considerable success. In contrast by June, as Olds had predicted, the Air Force's fighter community was struggling with a nearly 1:1 kill-loss ratio. To the new Inspector General, Lt Gen Ernest C. Hardin, Jr., Olds offered to take a voluntary reduction in rank to colonel so he could return to operational command and straighten out the situation.
    In February 1971 he began his last duty assignment as director of aerospace safety in the Office of the Inspector General, Headquarters USAF, and after December 1971 as part of the Air Force Inspection and Safety Center, a newly activated separate operating agency located at Norton Air Force Base, California.
    More Details Hide Details Olds oversaw the creation of policies, standards, and procedures for Air Force accident prevention programs, and dealt with work safety education, workplace accident investigation and analysis, and safety inspections.
  • 1967
    Age 44
    After relinquishing command of the 8th TFW on September 23, 1967, Olds reported for duty to the United States Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colorado, in December 1967. He served as Commandant of Cadets for three years and sought to restore morale in the wake of a major cheating scandal. Olds was promoted to brigadier general on June 1, 1968, with seniority dating from May 28.
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    The President of the United States of America, authorized by Title 10, Section 8742, United States Code, takes pleasure in presenting the Air Force Cross to Colonel Robin Olds (AFSN: 0-26046), United States Air Force, for extraordinary heroism in military operations against an opposing armed force while serving as Strike Mission Commander in the 8th Tactical Fighter Wing, Ubon Royal Thai Air Base, Thailand, against the Paul Doumer Bridge, a major north-south transportation link on Hanoi's Red River in North Vietnam, on 11 August 1967.
    More Details Hide Details On that date, Colonel Olds led his strike force of eight F-4C aircraft against a key railroad and highway bridge in North Vietnam. Despite intense, accurately directed fire, multiple surface-to-air missile attacks on his force, and continuous harassment by MiG fighters defending the target, Colonel Olds, with undaunted determination, indomitable courage, and professional skill, led his force through to help destroy this significant bridge. As a result the flow of war materials into this area was appreciably reduced. Through his extraordinary heroism, superb airmanship, and aggressiveness in the face of hostile forces, Colonel Olds reflected the highest credit upon himself and the United States Air Force.
    He flew his final combat mission over North Vietnam on September 23, 1967.
    More Details Hide Details His 259 total combat missions included 107 in World War II and 152 in Southeast Asia, 105 of those over North Vietnam. Scat XXVII (F-4C-24-MC 64-0829) was retired from operational service and placed on display at the National Museum of the United States Air Force, Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio. Olds was known for the extravagantly waxed (and decidedly non-regulation) handlebar moustache he sported in Vietnam. It was a common superstition among airmen to grow a "bulletproof mustache", but Olds also used his as "a gesture of defiance. The kids on base loved it. Most everybody grew a mustache." Olds started the mustache in the wake of the success of Operation Bolo and let it grow beyond regulation length because "It became the middle finger I couldn't raise in the PR photographs. The mustache became my silent last word in the verbal battles with higher headquarters on rules, targets, and fighting the war." Returning home, however, marked the end of this flamboyance. When he reported to his first interview with Air Force Chief of Staff General John P. McConnell, McConnell walked up to him, stuck a finger under his nose and said, "Take it off." Olds replied, "Yes, sir."
    He was awarded a fourth Silver Star for leading a three-aircraft low-level bombing strike on March 30, 1967, and the Air Force Cross for an attack on the Paul Doumer Bridge in Hanoi on August 11, one of five awarded to Air Force pilots for that mission.
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  • 1966
    Age 43
    On September 30, 1966, Olds took command of the 8th Tactical Fighter Wing, based at Ubon Royal Thai Air Force Base.
    More Details Hide Details A lack of aggressiveness and sense of purpose in the wing had led to the change in command (Olds' predecessor had flown only 12 missions during the 10 months the wing had been in combat). The 44-year-old colonel also set the tone for his command stint by immediately placing himself on the flight schedule as a rookie pilot under officers junior to himself, then challenging them to train him properly because he would soon be leading them. Olds' vice commander was Col. Vermont Garrison, an ace in both World War II and Korea, and in December Olds brought in James to replace an ineffective deputy commander for operations, creating arguably the strongest and most effective tactical command triumvirate of the Vietnam War. The Olds-James combination became popularly nicknamed "Blackman and Robin". Olds took to the air war over North Vietnam in an F-4C Phantom he nicknamed "Scat XXVII", in keeping with his previous combat aircraft that all carried the "Scat" name.
  • 1963
    Age 40
    Following his Pentagon assignment, Olds attended the National War College, graduating in 1963.
    More Details Hide Details Olds next became commander of the 81st Tactical Fighter Wing at RAF Bentwaters, England, an F-101 Voodoo fighter-bomber wing, on September 8, 1963. The 81st TFW was a major combat unit in United States Air Forces Europe, having both a tactical nuclear and conventional bombing role supporting NATO. Olds commanded the wing until July 26, 1965. As his Deputy Commander of Operations Olds brought with him Colonel Daniel "Chappie" James, Jr., whom he had met during his Pentagon assignment and who would go on to become the first African-American 4-star Air Force general. James and Olds worked closely together for a year as a command team and developed both a professional and social relationship which was later renewed in combat. Olds formed a demonstration team for the F-101 using pilots of his wing, without command authorization, and performed at an Air Force open house at Bentwaters. He asserted that his superior at Third Air Force attempted to have him court-martialed, but the commander of USAFE, General Gabriel P. Disosway, instead authorized his removal from command of the 81st TFW, cancellation of a recommended Legion of Merit award, and transfer to the headquarters of the Ninth Air Force at Shaw Air Force Base, South Carolina.
  • 1959
    Age 36
    From November 1959 to March 1960, his section worked intensely to develop a program reducing the entire structure of the ADC with the purpose of generating $6.5 billion for classified funding to develop the SR-71 Blackbird.
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  • 1958
    Age 35
    Olds had administrative and staff duty assignments at the Pentagon between 1958 and 1962 as the Deputy Chief, Air Defense Division, Headquarters USAF.
    More Details Hide Details In this assignment he prepared a number of papers, iconoclastic at the time, which soon became prophetic, including identifying the need for upgraded conventional munitions (foretelling the "bomb shortage" of the Vietnam War), and the dearth of any serious tactical air training in conventional warfare.
    He then was made chief of the Weapons Proficiency Center at Wheelus Air Base, Libya, in charge of all fighter weapons training for the United States Air Forces Europe until July 1958.
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  • 1955
    Age 32
    At first on the command staff of the 86th Fighter-Interceptor Wing at Landstuhl Air Base, Germany, Olds then commanded its Sabre-equipped 86th Fighter-Interceptor Group from October 8, 1955, to August 10, 1956.
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  • 1949
    Age 26
    Following his exchange assignment, Olds returned to March AFB to become operations officer of the 94th Fighter Squadron of the 1st Fighter Group, flying F-86A Sabres, on November 15, 1949.
    More Details Hide Details Olds was assigned to command the 71st Fighter Squadron, which was soon detached from the 1st FG to the Air Defense Command and based at the Greater Pittsburgh Airport in Pennsylvania. As a result, he missed service in the Korean War despite repeated applications for a combat assignment. Discouraged and at odds with the Air Force, in which he was seen as an iconoclast, Olds reportedly was in the process of resigning when he was talked out of it by a mentor, Maj Gen Frederic H. Smith, Jr., who brought him to work at Eastern Air Defense Command headquarters at Stewart AFB. Promoted to Lieutenant Colonel on February 20, 1951, and Colonel April 15, 1953, while just thirty years of age, Olds served unenthusiastically in several staff assignments until returning to flying in 1955.
  • 1948
    Age 25
    Flying the Gloster Meteor jet fighter, he commanded No. 1 Squadron at Royal Air Force Station Tangmere between October 20, 1948 and September 25, 1949, the first foreigner to command an RAF unit in peacetime.
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    Olds went to England under the U.S. Air Force/Royal Air Force Exchange Program in 1948.
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  • 1947
    Age 24
    They married in Beverly Hills on February 6, 1947, and had two daughters, Christina and Susan, and a son, Robert Ernest, who was stillborn in 1958. Most of their 29-year marriage, marked by frequent extended separations and difficult homecomings, was turbulent because of a clash of lifestyles, particularly her refusal to ever live in government housing on base. Robin Olds and Ella Raines separated in 1975 and divorced in 1976. Robin married Abigail Morgan Sellers Barnett in January 1978, and they divorced after fifteen years of marriage.
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  • 1946
    Age 23
    The jet demonstration performances with Herbst ended tragically on July 4, 1946, when Herbst crashed at the Del Mar Racetrack after his aircraft stalled during an encore of their routine finale in which the P-80s did a loop while configured to land.
    More Details Hide Details Later that same year Olds took second place in the Thompson Trophy Race (Jet Division) of the Cleveland National Air Races at Brook Park, Ohio over the Labor Day weekend. In this first "closed course" jet race, six P-80s competed against each other on a three pylon course 30 miles in length.
    In April 1946, he and Lieutenant Colonel John C. "Pappy" Herbst formed what he believed was the Air Force's first jet aerobatic demonstration team.
    More Details Hide Details In late May, the 412th was ordered to undertake PROJECT COMET, a nine-city transcontinental mass formation flight. Olds and Herbst performed a two-ship acro routine that thrilled the crowds at every stop, the highlight being a three-day layover in Washington, D.C. In June, Olds was one of four pilots who participated in the first one-day, dawn-to-dusk, transcontinental round trip jet flight from March Field to Washington, D.C.
    Returning to the United States after the war, Olds was assigned at West Point as an assistant football coach for Red Blaik. Apparently resented by many on the staff for his rapid rise in rank and plethora of combat decorations, Olds transferred in February 1946 to the 412th Fighter Group at March Field, California, to fly the P-80 Shooting Star, which began a career-long professional struggle with superiors he viewed as more promotion- than warrior-minded.
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  • 1945
    Age 22
    His final World War II aerial kill occurred on April 7, 1945, when Olds in Scat VI led the 479th Fighter Group on a mission escorting B-24s bombing an ammunition dump in Lüneburg, Germany.
    More Details Hide Details The engagement marked the only combat appearance of Sonderkommando Elbe, a German Air Force Squadron formed to ram Allied bombers. South of Bremen, Olds noticed contrails popping up above a bank of cirrus clouds, of aircraft flying above and to the left of the bombers. For five minutes these bogeys paralleled the bomber stream while the 479th held station. Turning to investigate, Olds saw pairs of Me 262s turn towards and dive on the Liberators. After damaging one of the jets in a chase meant to lure the fighter escort away from the bombers, the Mustangs returned to the bomber stream. Olds observed a Bf 109 of Sonderkommando Elbe attack the bombers and shoot down a B-24. Olds pursued the Bf 109 through the formation, and shot it down. Olds achieved the bulk of his strafing credits the following week in attacks on Lübeck Blankensee and Tarnewitz airdromes on April 13, and Reichersburg airfield in Austria on April 16, when he destroyed six German planes on the ground. He later reflected on the hazards of such missions:
    Promoted to major on February 9, 1945, Olds claimed his seventh victory southeast of Magdeburg, Germany the same day, downing another Bf 109.
    More Details Hide Details On February 14, he claimed three victories, two Bf 109s and an Fw 190, but one of the former was credited only as a "probable".
  • 1944
    Age 21
    He completed his first combat tour on November 9, 1944, accruing 270 hours of combat time and six kills.
    More Details Hide Details After returning to the United States for a two-month leave, Olds began a full second tour at Wattisham on January 15, 1945. He was assigned duties as operations officer of the 434th Fighter squadron.
    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.
    More Details Hide Details 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 May 14, 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 A. 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.
  • 1943
    Age 20
    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.
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    Olds received his pilot's wings personally from Gen. Henry H. Arnold on May 30, 1943, and graduated on June 1 as a member of the Class of June 1943, 194th in general merit of 514 graduates.
    More Details Hide Details Lieutenant Olds completed fighter pilot training with the 329th Fighter Group, an operational training unit 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 fighter training to the Lockheed P-38 Lightning in its P-322 variant.
    In March 1943, Olds was braced by an officer upon returning from leave in New York City, and compelled on penalty of an honor violation to admit he had consumed alcohol.
    More Details Hide Details The infraction reduced him in rank from cadet captain to cadet private, characterized by Olds in his memoirs as "only the second cadet in the history of West Point to earn that dubious honor." He walked punishment tours until the day of his graduation in June. The incident left its mark on Olds such that when he became Commandant of Cadets at the Air Force Academy, use of the Honor Code as an instrument for integrity rather than as a tool for petty enforcement of discipline became a point of emphasis in his administration. During his Academy years Olds also acquired a strong contempt for alumni networking, commonly called "ring knocking", to the degree that he went out of his way to conceal his West Point background. By an act of Congress on October 1, 1942, during Olds' Second Class year, the academy began a three-year curriculum for the duration of the war for cadets entering after July 1939. Cadets applying to the Air Corps were classified as Air Cadets, with a modified curriculum that provided flying training but eliminated Military Topography and Graphics required for Ground Cadets. Olds' class was given an abridged second class course of study until January 19, 1943, when it began an abridged first class course.
  • 1942
    Age 19
    Olds was briefly a stepbrother of author Gore Vidal after Olds' father married for the fourth time in June 1942, to Nina Gore Auchinloss.
    More Details Hide Details His father died of pneumonia on April 28, 1943, after hospitalization for constrictive pericarditis and Libman-Sacks endocarditis, at the age of 46, just prior to Olds' graduation from West Point. In 1946, while based at March Field, Olds met Hollywood actress (and "pin-up girl") Ella Raines on a blind date in Palm Springs.
    In the Army–Navy Game of 1942, which was played at Annapolis instead of Philadelphia, Olds had both upper front teeth knocked out when he received a forearm blow to the mouth while making a tackle.
    More Details Hide Details Olds returned to the game and reportedly was cheered by the Navy Third and Fourth Classes, which were assigned as the Army cheering section when wartime travel restrictions prevented the Corps of Cadets from attending. In 1985 Olds was enshrined in the College Football Hall of Fame. Olds developed ambivalent feelings about West Point, admiring its dedication to "Duty, Honor, Country", but disturbed by the tendency of many tactical officers to distort the purpose of its Honor Code.
    In 1942 he was named by Collier's Weekly as its "Lineman of the Year" and by Grantland Rice as "Player of the Year."
    More Details Hide Details Olds was also selected as an All-American as the cadets compiled a 6-3 record, beating Lafayette College, Cornell, Columbia, Harvard, VMI, and Princeton, and falling to Notre Dame, Penn, and Navy.
  • 1939
    Age 16
    As a result, the new academy superintendent, Maj. Gen. Robert L. Eichelberger, replaced the head coach (an Army officer) with Earl "Red" Blaik, a 1920 graduate and head coach at Dartmouth, who had recruited Olds in 1939.
    More Details Hide Details Olds played on the varsity college football team in both 1941 and 1942. At 6 foot 2 inches in height (1.88m) and weighing 205 pounds (92 kg), he played tackle on both offense and defense, lettering both seasons. Army's record in 1941 was 5-3-1, with wins over The Citadel, VMI, Yale, Columbia, and West Virginia, a scoreless tie with Notre Dame, and losses to Harvard, Penn and Navy. The loss to the midshipmen was followed eight days later by the attack on Pearl Harbor.
  • 1937
    Age 14
    Olds attended Hampton High School where he was elected president of his class three successive years, and played varsity high school football on a team that won the state championship of Virginia in 1937.
    More Details Hide Details Olds was aggressive, even mean, as a player, and received offers to attend Virginia Military Institute and Dartmouth College on football scholarships. Instead of entering college after graduating in 1939, Olds enrolled at Millard Preparatory School in Washington, D.C., a school established to prepare men for the entrance examinations to the military academies. When Germany invaded Poland, Olds attempted to join the Royal Canadian Air Force but was thwarted by his father's refusal to approve his enlistment papers. Olds completed Millard Prep and applied for admission to the United States Military Academy at West Point. After he received a conditional commitment for nomination from Pennsylvania Congressman J. Buell Snyder, Olds moved to Uniontown, Pennsylvania, where he lived in the YMCA and supported himself working odd jobs. He passed the West Point entrance examination and was accepted into the Class of 1944 on June 1, 1940. He entered the academy a month later but after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, Olds was sent to the Spartan School of Aeronautics in Tulsa, Oklahoma, for flight training. This training ended a year later by Christmas 1942. Olds returned to West Point, hoping to graduate early and see action in the war.
    His father was made commander of the pioneer B-17 Flying Fortress 2nd Bombardment Group at Langley Field on March 1, 1937, and promoted to lieutenant colonel on March 7.
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  • 1925
    Age 2
    On November 10, 1925, his father appeared as a witness on behalf of Billy Mitchell during Mitchell's court-martial in Washington, D.C..
    More Details Hide Details He brought three-year-old Robin with him to court, dressed in an Air Service uniform, and posed with him for newspaper photographers before testifying. Olds first flew at the age of eight, in an open cockpit biplane operated by his father. At the age of 12, Olds made attending the U.S. Military Academy at West Point an objective to accomplish his goals of becoming an officer, a military aviator, and playing football.
  • 1922
    Olds was born "Robert Oldys, Jr." in Honolulu into an Army family and spent much of his boyhood in Hampton, Virginia, where he attended elementary and high school. His father was Captain (later Major General) Robert Oldys (later Olds), an instructor pilot in France during World War I, former aide to Brigadier General Billy Mitchell from 1922 to 1925, and a leading advocate of strategic bombing in the Air Corps.
    More Details Hide Details His mother, Eloise Wichman Nott Olds, died when Robin was four and he was raised by his father. Olds was the eldest of four brothers, followed by Stevan (1924), Sterling (1935), and Frederick (1936). Growing up primarily at Langley Field, Virginia, Olds virtually made daily contact with the small group of officers who would lead the US Army Air Forces in World War II (one neighbor was Major Carl Spaatz, destined to become the first Chief of Staff of the USAF), and as a result was imbued with an unusually strong dedication to the air service, and conversely, with a low tolerance for officers who did not exhibit the same.
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