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Statement of Military Service of Major General Robert Olds

Born 15 June 1896 at Woodside, Maryland

Sergeant, Aviation Section Signal Enlisted Reserve Corps
from 16 January 1917 to 24 July 1917
1st Lieutenant, Aviation Section Signal Officers’
Reserve Corps 7 June 1917
Active Duty 25 July 1917
Captain, Air Service, United States Army 3 Sep 1918
Vacated 24 Sep 1920
1st Lieutenant, Air Service, to rank from 1 July 1920
Captain 1 July 1920
Major (temporary) from 30 June 1935 to 31 July 1935
Major 1 Aug 1935
Lieutenant Colonel (temporary) 7 March 1936 to 16 June 1936
Lieutenant Colonel (temporary) 26 Aug 1936
Vacated Lieutenant Colonel (temporary) reverting to
the rank of Major, Regular Army 26 July 1940
Lieutenant Colonel 26 July 1940
Colonel (temporary) 16 Oct 1940
Brigadier General (temporary) 16 Jan 1942
Major General (temporary) 28 May 1942

Graduate: Command and General Staff School, 1935
Air Corps Tactical School, 1928
Issoudon Flying School, Issoudon, France

Rated: Command Pilot, Combat
Observer, 1918


General Olds received his primary flight training at the Curtiss School, Newport News, Virginia, Kelly Field, Texas and Scott Field, Illinois. From September 1918 to October 1919 he served in the Air Service with the Second Army Observation Group and Headquarters, Second Army Air Service, American Expeditionary Forces in France.

Upon his return to the United States, he was assigned and served with the Air Service at Camp Merritt, and Camp Dix, New Jersey, and temporary duty at Washington, D.C. to December 1919; enroute to Honolulu, Hawaii, 15 January 1920 and served as Operations, Equipment and Engineering Officer in the office of the Hawaiian Department, from 24 January 1920 to 25 July 1920; served as Operations, Post Intelligence and Assistant to the Commanding Officer at Luke Field, Hawaii to May 1923. Upon his return to the United States in May 1923, he was assigned and served as Acting Chief, War Plans Section at Washington, D.C. to May 1927. He attended the Air Corps Tactical School, Langley Field, Virginia, graduating in August 1928; attended the Command and General Staff School, Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, graduating in June 1935. He then served at Langley Field, Virginia, as Chief, Inspection Section, GHQ Air Force and as Commanding Officer, 2d Bombardment Group to January 1940. As Commanding Officer of a squadron of six airplanes of the 2d Bombardment Group, he was responsible for the planning and execution of the aerial flight from Langley Field, Virginia, to Buenos Aires, Argentina, South America, and return, February 15 to 27, 1938, in the interest of Pan-American Amity. He was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross for this flight.

He was also awarded the Knight of the Order of the Southern Cross (Brazil) for having commanded a flight of 7 B-17 airplanes participating in the celebrations of the 50th anniversary of the Republic of Brazil on 15 November 1939.

He served as Assistant to the Chief, Plans Division, Command Observer and Pilot, and as Commanding Officer, Air Corps Ferry Command at Office, Chief of the Air Corps, Washington, D.C. from January 1940 to 1942, during which time he pioneered the North Atlantic Ferry Service from Canada to England, which work included the establishment of ground installations on both sides of the Atlantic as well as the organization and very successful operation of the ferry service itself. In addition, he set up an extensive flying force to ferry planes from American factories to take-off points for trans-Atlantic flights by the British Ferry Service. He then opened the South Atlantic Ferry delivery and then the Pacific Ferry Service. The success of these ferry services contributed to a very high degree to the defense of the country and its allies.

In January 1941, while serving as a member of the Plans Division, Chief of the Air Corps, Washington, D.C., Major General B. K. Yount said, “An officer of superior initiative, imagination, and enthusiasm, who gets things done. He is untiring in his devotion to duty. He is quick thinking and original in his thought. I would be glad to have him under my command in time of peace or war.”

Brigadier General Carl Spaatz said of him in June 1941, while he served as Assistant Chief, Plans Division at Washington, D.C., “A brilliant officer full of energy and drive.”

He was assigned to Headquarters, Third Air Force, Tampa, Florida and later assumed command of the Second Air Force, Fort George Wright, Washington, which post he held until released from duty in February 1943 to enter the Station Hospital, Davis-Monthan Field, Tucson, Arizona. He died at Desert Sanatorium, Tucson, Arizona on 28 April 1943 of Libman-Sacks Disease.

Distinguished Service Medal
Distinguished Flying Cross
World War I Victory Medal
American Defense Service Medal with Foreign Clasp
American Campaign Medal
European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal
Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal
World War II Victory Medal
Knight of the Order of the Southern Cross (Brazil)
Aviation Badge “Command Pilot”