Retired Brig. Gen. Robinson “Robbie” Risner, who spent more than seven years as a prisoner of war in Vietnam, shot down eight MiG-15s during the Korean War, and served during World War II, died on Oct. 22 in Bridgewater, Va. He was 88 years old. “Risner was part of that legendary group who served in three wars, built an Air Force, and gave us an enduring example of courage and mission success,” wrote Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Welsh in A True Airpower Giant, his tribute to Risner. “I’m proud to serve in Robbie Risner’s Air Force and to try and live up to his example,” stated Welsh. Born in Mammoth Spring, Ark., in 1925, Risner flew the P-38 and P-39 in Panama during the latter portion of World War II. Recalled to active duty during the Korean War, Risner completed 108 combat missions in that conflict, downing the eight MiGs in the F-86. On Sept. 16, 1965, the North Vietnamese shot down Risner’s F-105 during a bombing mission and took him prisoner. He endured torture and solitary confinement at the infamous Hanoi Hilton prison during his captivity. Risner retired from the Air Force in August 1976. Among his decorations, he received two Air Force Crosses for his heroism in Vietnam. Risner authored the book “The Passing of the Night: Seven Years as a Prisoner of the North Vietnamese.” A statue of him is on display at the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colo. (Includes Washington, D.C., report by MSgt. Angelita Colón-Francia) (For more on Risner, read Nine Feet Tall from Air Force Magazine’s February 2012 issue and Valor: When Push Came to Shove.)
Unlike nearly every other innovative technology throughout history, Maj. Gen. DeAnna M. Burt believes the space enterprise emerged backward. “Every other domain started with an entrepreneur who built something,” Burt, the special assistant to the Chief of Space Operations, told an audience at AFA’s Air, Space & Cyber Conference.