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Robin Olds As A Leader Of Character

1393 words - 6 pages

Brigadier General Robin Olds Jr. was an officer in the Army Air Corps and later an Air Force pilot from 1943 to 1973. From an early age, Olds was surrounded by great fighter pilots who mentored his leadership abilities. He character was also influenced by his father; Robin Olds Sr. Olds’ character was tested time after time as a cadet at West Point and as an Air Force Officer at the squad and wing levels. Robin Olds was a leader of character because of early influences and training, experience as a fighter pilot in World War Two, and his leadership skills as a wing commander in Vietnam.
When Robin Olds Jr. was a child, his father helped guide the development of his son’s character. His father, Captain (later Major General) Robert Olds Sr., was a fighter pilot in World War I who worked with and introduced young Robin Olds to many of the Air Force’s greatest officers including Hap Arnold and Tooey Spaatz. These visits from his father’s friends helped solidify Olds’ vision to be a fighter pilot, as shown when he says that “the brotherhood of pilots impressed [him] as much as the thrill of flying itself” (Olds and Rasimus 6). While Olds’ father was an important influence, his time at West Point was just as influential and tested Olds character as well. One day, Olds and a friend went to New York City during a free weekend. Olds had a “scotch and a soda” and when returning for check-in were confronted by “a guy who seemed to harbor a personal vendetta” (Olds and Rasimus 16). When finally asked if he drank anything, Olds truthfully answered yes and was demoted from cadet captain to private. Olds could have easily said no, but instead he chose to uphold the honor code and answered with the truth. After graduating West Point, Olds continued pilot training at Williams Field, Arizona to fly the P-38 Lighting. It was there that Olds found himself in trouble for unknowingly making a strafing pass at his squadron CO’s plane. When he and two of his wingmen were pulled into the CO’s office for questioning, Olds immediately turned himself in. The commanding officer seemed surprised, but Olds recollects that “we had learned that officers do not lie, cheat, or steal, or tolerate those that do. We simply did what we were conditioned to do” (Olds and Rasimus 21).
Olds continued to prove himself as a leader of character during his time as a pilot in World War Two. One of the major influences during this part of his career was his roommate in England Wally Wallace. Olds initially thought of Wallace as a coward, but came to understand that he was one of the bravest pilots that Olds ever met. Wallace was simply scared of dying during a mission, whereas Olds never really contemplated death. (Olds and Rasimus 86). This taught Olds that two men are never alike, and that as an officer he couldn’t assume his men would accept missions without giving a second thought to death. Another experience that influenced Olds as a leader of character was his treatment and...

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