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."