Gather round you intrepid readers of American Grit. If you like extremely powerful facial hair and fighter pilots, we've got a story for you. Meet Robin Olds, you may have heard of him due to our Top 5 Airmen piece. He certainly belongs there as one of the premier fighter pilots of World War 2 and Vietnam. Having flown the P-38J Lightning, P-51 Mustang, and F-4 Phantom (among others) his prowess in the air is only superseded by his ability to grow a majestic mustache that would put Tom Selleck and Burt Reynolds to shame.Robin grew up around the military as his father was a General Robert Olds, recipient of the Distinguished Flying Cross and pioneer in strategic bombing. Robin gained an admission to West Point and earned his commission. Shortly before the Normandy invasions, Robin began flying missions in his P38J Lightning. Robin Olds was a discerning man who had literally been flying since he was 8 years old. His insistence that the plane be waxed (to reduce air resistance), was not met with groans by the ground crew, because Robin was right there with them, taking care of his aircraft. He was a true leader.His discerning tastes paid off and in the coming months, he bagged several Luftwaffe trophies. Becoming a double ace before the end of World War 2 Robin Olds was credited with 12 official kills.
Postwar was not exactly friendly to Robert Olds as he butted heads with superiors. They weren't the same cut as him. A warrior, a predator seeking aerial retribution on America's behalf. They wanted the plush offices, Robert wanted to be with his men, in the fight, flying, diving, and hunting.[caption id="attachment_17807" align="alignnone" width="750"]
R. Olds in P-51 cockpit c. WWII[/caption]Several staff assignments frustrated the now Colonel Olds. He missed out entirely on the Korean war due to the staff assignments. The lack of time behind the stick engaged with the enemy was driving him insane, until...in 1966 he finally got back into the fight. In the F4 Phantom, Olds achieved his final kills on MiG fighters in the Vietnam War.Defiant, skilled, intelligent and brash...General Robin Olds is a credit to the American warrior spirit.Read more stories of American Grit: