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Air Force Cross Air Force Distinguished Service Medal (2) Silver Star (4) Legion of Merit Distinguished Flying Cross (6) Air Medal (40) British Distinguished Flying Cross Croix de Guerre with Star (France) (July 14, 1922 – June 14, 2007) was an American fighter pilot and general officer in the U. He remained in the service as it became the United States Air Force, despite often being at odds with its leadership, and was one of its pioneer jet pilots.
Olds was promoted to brigadier general after returning from Vietnam but did not hold another major command.The remainder of his career was spent in non-operational positions, as Commandant of Cadets at the United States Air Force Academy and as an official in the Air Force Inspector General's Office.His inability to rise higher as a general officer is attributed to both his maverick views and his penchant for drinking.Olds had a highly publicized career and life, including marriage to Hollywood actress Ella Raines.As a young man he was also recognized for his athletic prowess in both high school and college, being named an All-American as a lineman in college football.Olds expressed his philosophy regarding fighter pilots in the quote: "There are pilots and there are pilots; with the good ones, it is inborn. If you are a fighter pilot, you have to be willing to take risks." 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), 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), On November 10, 1925, his father appeared as a witness on behalf of Billy Mitchell during Mitchell's court-martial in Washington, D. 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.
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.
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.
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.