Friday, October 25, 2013

Another Giant Passes

From the Usual USAF Source:
Robbie Risner Dies
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. Marc 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.)
Gen. Risner was a contemporary of Col. Bud Day, who also passed this year.  Both men were veritable giants among men and examples for all of us.

RIP, General Risner.


  1. General Risner's account of his captivity was not the best book written about the POW experience, the same as Jeremiah Denton's short book. I think that because they were written from the humility of the true hero. Other accounts, especially those of Air Force POWs, list Risner as a textbook definition of inspirational leadership and physical courage. After reading other works from heroic warriors who to a man cite Risner as their personal role model, I was disappointed with his tale because he told a tale of teamwork and downplayed his impact on his men.

    As the years pass and the giants of previous conflicts join the roll call up above, we need to ensure that their stories do not fade from the required reading lists for future servicemen and women who are desperately seeking models to emulate. Names like Risner, Dramesi, Sijan, Stockdale, Denton, Coker, Atterbury, Stratton, Alvarez, Plumb, Shumaker, Day, Jenkins, Johnson, McKnight, Mulligan, Rutledge, Storz, Tanner, Cherry, Guarino, and many, many more should never been forgotten.

  2. Wow, what Tim said.

    As the Old Guard passes, we must raise up new men and women to take their place. Are we still capable, as a Nation, of doing this?

    I think we are. I pray we are.

    Via con Dios General.

    1. Are we still capable, as a Nation, of doing this?

      I also think we are. I saw some fine examples on my trip back east this year... you know a few, too.

  3. Every time I read about the passing of another Giant, it lament that the folks leading our country aren't more like them.

  4. I'm sorry, Buck, but I must demur, when those men were young they were THE RULE; now, unfortunately, their like are the EXCEPTION! IMHO we as a culture are circling the drain following the brutal but inevitable dictates of the Second Law of Thermodynamics. We are becoming unraveled. I more and more find myself breaking uncontrollably into tears totally unbidden as I contemplate the fate of our Republic and fear that the sacrifice of such men--indeed ALL our sacrifices both large and small--will have been in vain. Such is the state of our nation I cannot believe such men died happily and with equanimity..

    1. PS: Circa 1993 or thereabouts a good friend of mine who is an architect in Louisville and I were having a discussion about the fate of our nation in which, alluding to the trends that we both feared, he made the comment that ""...the Flag is coming down..." Unfortunately with each passing year I fear that he was more prophetic than we both knew..

    2. Half-full, half-empty. Mebbe my glasses have a wee bit of rose tint to 'em, but I remain optimistic.


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