Military News

Friday, January 29, 2016

Daughter of legendary fighter pilot visits Seymour Johnson AFB

by Airman Shawna L. Keyes
4th Fighter Wing Public Affairs

1/27/2016 - SEYMOUR JOHNSON AIR FORCE BASE, N.C. -- Christina Olds, daughter of late Brig. Gen. Robin Olds, one of the Air Force's most iconic fighter pilots, visited Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, North Carolina, Jan. 22, 2016, to speak about her father's accomplishments in the Air Force.

Airmen from around the base came to the 334th Fighter Squadron to hear Olds recount stories of her father's adventures during World War II and the Vietnam War, as well as the type of commander he was.

The general is rated a triple ace, having shot down a total of 17 enemy aircraft during WWII and the Vietnam War and has held the positions of squadron, base, group and wing commander as well as staff assignments in a numbered Air Force, Headquarters U.S. Air Force and the Organization of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

"He got shipped off to Vietnam in late September of 1966," Olds recalled. "His first briefing there, he just stood at the front of the room and said, 'I'm here to lead you into combat, so you better teach me everything you know because I will be leading you in three weeks, and one guy said 'Yea, right' and my dad zeroed in on him and said, 'And you are going to be my wingman'."

Robin Olds was the type of leader that led from the front, according to his daughter. She told of how he had a different tactical approach to everything. One of the first things he did after arriving in Vietnam was devise what came to be known as the first tactics conference in December 1966. This conference was also the birthplace of the River Rats, the Red River Valley Fighter Pilots Association.

Olds said part of her father's tremendous appeal was how much he loved and appreciated everyone around him.

"The very first thing he'd do when he'd get to a new assignment was go out on the flightline and meet all the crews on the aircraft," she said. "Then he'd go into the BX, the hospital, the barber shop and the commissary. He would tromp through every single shop on the base and introduce himself to people; he'd learn their names, where they were from, and learn about their families."

Olds also shared family photos and spoke of the relationship she and her sister had with their father and what it was like growing up in various places throughout his career.

"I appreciated Ms. Olds sharing her father's story with a new generation of fighter aircrew," said Lt. Col. Ernesto DiVittorio, 4th Operations Support Squadron commander. "Brigadier General Olds was a true warrior leader with a passion for the mission and his Airmen; officer and enlisted. As the father of two girls myself, I also appreciated Ms. Olds sharing insight into the relationship she shared with [her father]." 

Olds ended her presentation by answering questions from the audience.

"What stunned me the most was the amount of respect toward him from all these people that had flown and worked with my dad," said Olds. "Some of them got really teary-eyed talking about him and what it meant to fly with him, that he was leading them and getting them home safely."

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