Veterans

January 27, 2014

AF lays to rest an ‘American hero’

Pall Bearers from the U.S. Air Force Honor Guard fold the flag which draped the the casket of Brig. Gen. Robinson “Robbie” Risner during his internment ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery, Arlington, Va., Jan. 23, 2014. Risner was the Air Force’s 20th Ace and and survived seven and a half years of captivity as a Prisoner of War (POW) in Hoa Lo Prison, a.k.a the Hanoi Hilton, during the Vietnam War.

Friends, family members, political leaders, former prisoners of war and service members paid their respects as an Air Force Ace was interred at Arlington National Cemetery Jan. 23.

Brig. Gen. Robinson “Robbie” Risner, a Korean War fighter ace and Vietnam prisoner of war, died Oct. 22, 2013 at Bridgewater Retirement Community in Bridgewater, Va., at the age of 88.

“America has lost one of its greatest heroes,” said Ross Perot, a close friend of Risner, during the service at the Memorial Chapel on Fort Myer, Va.

Though Risner’s life on earth has ended, his flying legacy lives on, Perot said, speaking about how Risner passed on his aviation wings for both Perot’s son and grandson to wear.

“Robbie approved that my son Ross could pin Robbie’s wings on my grandson,” said Perot.  “Can you imagine what that meant?”

Perot went on to share anecdotes from throughout Risner’s celebrated career, describing him as an “Oklahoma cowboy” who was hero and a friend, whose “love of God and love of country what was got him through seven and a half years as a prisoner of war.”

A bugler, in the distance, blows “Taps” as members of U.S. Air Force Honor Guard render honors to Brig. Gen. Robinson “Robbie” Risner during his internment ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery, Arlington, Va., Jan. 23, 2014. Risner was the Air Force’s 20th Ace and and survived seven and a half years of captivity as a Prisoner of War (POW) in Hoa Lo Prison, a.k.a the Hanoi Hilton, during the Vietnam War.

But for many other POWs, they credited their survival to Risner’s leadership.

“When the POWs came home from Vietnam, time and time again, I’d hear them say ‘if it hadn’t been for Robbie Risner, I wouldn’t have made it,’” Perot said, sharing a particular moment that defined Risner’s character.

While imprisoned in Vietnam, Risner gathered fellow POWs for a church service – something that was strictly prohibited.  While the troops were singing the song “Onward Christian Soldiers,” guards rushed in, taking Risner and two other leaders to what Perot referred to as “the box,” a place of solitary confinement.

When this occurred, “more than 40 POWs stood proudly, some of whom are here today, and sang a strictly forbidden song, the Star Spangled Banner,” Perot recalls. “How’s that for guts?”

Upon Risner’s return from the POW camp, Perot asked him, “‘Robbie, what was going on in your mind as they dragged you back to the box?’ He looked me in the eye. His eyes were twinkling. He said ‘Perot, with those guys singing the Star Spangled Banner, I was nine feet tall. I could have gone bear hunting with a stick!’”

Chief of Staff Gen. Mark A. Welsh III (top left) and his wife, Betty, render honors during Brig. Gen. Robinson “Robbie” Risner’s funeral at Arlington National Cemetery, Arlington, Va., Jan. 23, 2014. Risner was the Air Force’s 20th Ace and and survived seven and a half years of captivity as a Prisoner of War (POW) in Hoa Lo Prison, a.k.a the Hanoi Hilton, during the Vietnam War.

That moment and his words are reflected by a statue, exactly 9 feet high, that now stands at the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colo.

Perot, a Navy veteran, closed with the note that “when you arrive at the pearly gates in Heaven, you will be warmly greeted by the United States Marines, guarding the gates.”

Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Mark A. Welsh III added to the humor of Perot’s remarks.

“I hope the Marines in Heaven know where the officer’s club is,” Welsh said.  “Because that’s where all the fighter pilots are going to be waiting for him.”

Welsh spoke to the audience about Risner, as someone Airmen should look up to.

“He’s one of the greatest American Airmen ever,” Welsh said. “It’s really just that simple.”

Welsh spoke about how Risner’s life and legend means something different to everyone in the audience.

A member of the U.S. Air Force Honor Guard stands vigil following Brig. Gen. Robinson “Robbie” Risner’s full honors military funeral at Arlington National Cemetery, Arlington, Va., Jan. 23, 2014. Risner was the Air Force’s 20th Ace and and survived seven and a half years of captivity as a Prisoner of War (POW) in Hoa Lo Prison, a.k.a the Hanoi Hilton, during the Vietnam War.

“He’s an icon, he’s a founding father … a member of that special generation who did fight in three wars, built an Air Force, and showed us exactly what courage looks like. An American hero.”

Members of the 336th Fighter Squadron, from Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, N.C., his unit during the Korean War were also in attendance.

“He’s everything they want to be … a legendary fighter pilot,” Welsh said.

Addressing Risner’s fellow POWs in attendance, Welsh said, “I can’t imagine what he meant to you … I just can’t even imagine.

“What some of you have told me is that he was a leader and a role model at a time in your life when you needed one terribly … a man that somehow maintained his human dignity, his character and his moral strength,” Welsh said. “They say they saw his conviction that they could survive, would survive … and they believed, because he believed. Gentlemen, I’m so sorry that your brother is gone.”

Chief of Staff Gen. Mark A. Welsh III and his wife, Betty, give their condolences to Dorothy Risner during the funeral for her husband, Brig. Gen. Robinson “Robbie” Risner, at Arlington National Cemetery, Arlington, Va., Jan. 23, 2014. Risner was the Air Force’s 20th Ace and and survived seven and a half years of captivity as a Prisoner of War (POW) in Hoa Lo Prison, a.k.a the Hanoi Hilton, during the Vietnam War.

Welsh addressed other groups of people, Airmen past and present, individuals who were privileged to have known Risner over the years.

“To the people of this Nation, he was a noble idea … a comforting thought … the reassuring knowledge that there will always be those willing to answer the bugle’s call … to sacrifice more than they have any right to ask, to dare greatly … to risk everything, to fight and die on their behalf,” Welsh said, “He’s who all of them hope they would be.”

But most importantly, to his wife, Dorothy, he was “just the man I loved. That’s the real celebration today,” Welsh said, addressing the many family members in attendance. “Your husband, your dad, your grandfather, your brother … was a remarkable man.”

Risner is survived by Dorothy, six children and their spouses: Timothy Risner, Daniel and Page Risner, Dana and Gregory Duyka, Deborah and Michael Darrell, David and Pamela Risner, DeAnna and Timothy Parker, and 14 grandchildren. He leaves behind one sister and her spouse, Peggy and Norman Goldstein, and one sister-in-law Jean Risner.
 

Family members of Brig. Gen. Robinson “Robbie” Risner listen to Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Mark A. Welsh III and Ross Perot who spoke at Risner’s internment ceremony at the Memorial chapel on Fort Myer, Arlington, Va., before he was laid to rest at Arlington National Cemetery, Jan. 23, 2014. Risner was one of the most celebrated pilots in Air Force history and survived seven and a half years of captivity in Hoa Lo Prison, also known as the Hanoi Hilton.




All of this week's top headlines to your email every Friday.


 
 

 

News Briefs February 27, 2015

Ukraine will start pulling back heavy weapons in the east Ukraine’s military says it will start pulling back its heavy weapons from the front line with Russian-backed separatists as required under a cease-fire agreement. The Defense Ministry said in a statement Feb. 26 that it reserved the right to revise its withdrawal plans in the...
 
 

Northrop Grumman’s AstroMesh reflector successfully deploys for NASA’s SMAP satellite

The NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory successfully deployed the mesh reflector and boom aboard the Soil Moisture Active Passive spacecraft, a key milestone on its mission to provide global measurements of soil moisture. Launched Jan. 31, SMAP represents the future of Earth Science by helping researchers better understand our planet. SMAP’s unmatched data capabilities are enabled...
 
 
NASA photograph by Brian Tietz

NASA offers space tech grants to early career university faculty

NASA photograph by Brian Tietz Tensegrity research is able to simulate multiple forms of locomotion. In this image, a prototype tensegrity robot reproduces forward crawling motion. NASA’s Space Technology Mission Director...
 

 
navy-china

USS Fort Worth conducts CUES with Chinese Navy

The littoral combat ship USS Fort Worth (LCS 3) practiced the Code for Unplanned Encounters at Sea (CUES) with the People’s Liberation Army-Navy Jiangkai II frigate Hengshui (FFG 572) Feb. 23 enhancing the professional ma...
 
 

AEGIS tracks, simulates engagement of three short-range ballistic missiles

The Missile Defense Agency and sailors aboard the guided-missile destroyers USS Carney (DDG 64), USS Gonzalez (DDG 66), and USS Barry (DDG 52) successfully completed a flight test involving the Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense weapon system. At approximately 2:30 a.m., EST, Feb. 26, three short-range ballistic missile targets were launched near simultaneously from NASA’s Wallops...
 
 

DOD seeks novel ideas to shape its technological future

The Defense Department is seeking novel ideas to shape its future, and officials are looking to industry, small business, academia, start-ups, the public – anyone, really – to boost its ability to prevail against adversaries whose access to technology grows daily. The program, called the Long-Range Research and Development Plan, or LRRDP, began with an...
 




0 Comments


Be the first to comment!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>