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Robin Olds

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Robin Olds, a retired Air Force brigadier general renowned for his exploits as a fighter pilot in World War II and Vietnam, has died at 84. He was a 2001 inductee of the National Aviation Hall of Fame and returned to Dayton for the hall's enshrinement ceremony in 2006.

The Air Force Academy plans a public memorial service for Mr. Olds on June 30 at its Cadet Protestant Chapel in Colorado Springs, Colo., followed by a graveside service at the academy's cemetery.

Mr. Olds had been in failing health for months as he suffered from congestive heart failure and prostate cancer. He died June 14 at his home in Steamboat Springs, Colo.

Mr. Olds was born into an Army family, son of Army Air Corps Maj. Gen. Robert Olds, a World War I combat pilot and advocate of tactical aerial warfare.

Mr. Olds completed pilot training in 1943, the year his father died. Flying P-38 Lightnings and later P-51 Mustangs, he shot down 13 German planes and was credited with destroying 11 others on the ground during World War II. By the end of his tour, he was commander of the 434th Fighter Squadron.

In Vietnam, Mr. Olds would shoot down four MiG aircraft. He flew 107 combat missions in World War II and 152 in the Vietnam War.

He retired from the Air Force in 1973. His Vietnam fighter plane, an F-4C Phantom, is on display at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force.

Mr. Olds was born July 14, 1922, in Honolulu. He was selected in 1942 as an All-American football player while playing as a tackle for the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, N.Y., and was later inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame.

He is the only National Aviation Hall of Fame inductee who also is a member of the college football hall, said Ron Kaplan, executive director of the aviation hall.

"He was a unique individual," Kaplan said Monday. "He was a gentle soul with a fiery spirit."

Published in Dayton Daily News on June 19, 2007
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