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NEWS | April 26, 2017

Renowned Triple Ace leaves historic legacy

By Beverly Joyner 633rd Air Base Wing Public Affairs

During World War II and the Vietnam War, renowned fighter pilot U.S. Air Force Brig. Gen. Robin Olds shot down more than 15 enemy aircraft and is rated a triple ace, after achieving aerial combat victories in World War II and the Vietnam War.


An American Fighter Ace is a fighter pilot who has served honorably in a U.S. military service and has destroyed five or more confirmed enemy aircraft in aerial combat during a war or conflict in which American armed forces have participated, according to Public Law 113-105 passed by Congress in 2014.


To honor Olds and other fighter pilots for their heroic military service and defense of our country’s freedom throughout the history of aviation warfare, the American Fighter Aces Congressional Gold Medal Act of 2014 awarded a gold medal to American Fighter Aces collectively.


Olds is the son of U.S. Army Air Forces Maj. Gen. Robert Olds, a World War I and World War II veteran. While attending school in Hampton, Virginia, Olds lived on Langley Field during his father’s various duty assignments at the installation.


According to the National Museum of the Air Force, Olds, a command pilot, grew up among military aviators and aircraft. Not only was his father a World War I pursuit pilot, but he was also an aide to Brig. Gen. Billy Mitchell and commander of the first B-17 squadron.


While attending the U.S. Military Academy, Olds played football and was selected as an all-American tackle in 1942. After receiving his commission to second lieutenant, Olds completed pilot training in 1943 and flew numerous aircraft throughout his career, including the P-38 Lightning, P-51 Mustang, P-80 Shooting Star and F-4 Phantom II.


In 1948, Olds participated in the U.S. Air Force and Royal air force Officer Exchange Program, which provided exposure and awareness of a foreign air force or sister service through an exchange of ideas and procedures and fostered an understanding of the doctrines and policies of both services.


During his duty assignment in England, Olds served as the first American commander of the No. 1 Fighter Squadron at Royal air force Station Tangmere, West Sussex, United Kingdom, which was home to the British Gloster Meteor jet fighter.


An Air Force Cross recipient and National War College graduate, Olds later served as commandant of cadets at the U.S. Air Force Academy. In 1968, Olds was promoted to the rank of brigadier general.


According to the American Fighter Aces Congressional Gold Medal Act, beginning with World War I and the first use of airplanes in warfare, military services have maintained official records of individual aerial victory credits during every major conflict. Of more than 60,000 U.S. military fighter pilots that have taken to the air, less than 1,500 have become Fighter Aces.


For more information about Robin Olds, visit or