Brigadier General Robinson “Robbie” Risner, a celebrated Korean War jet fighter ace and Vietnam prisoner of war, died October 22 at home in Bridgewater, Virginia.
General Risner completed 33 years of distinguished Air Force service before retiring in 1976. During the Korean War, Risner flew more than 100 combat missions, becoming America’s 20th Jet Ace by shooting down eight Soviet-made MIG fighters. In 1957 he set a transatlantic speed record during the 30th anniversary commemoration flight of Charles Lindbergh’s solo flight.
During the Vietnam War, General Risner was shot down twice over Communist North Vietnam, eventually captured and confined for seven and one-half years as a prisoner of war. General Risner’s book, The Passing of the Night, describes his Air Force experiences, concentrating on the time spent as a POW.
In 1979, General Risner became the first living person to be honored with the designation of a major military trophy in his own name. One of three bronze statues of him stands in the Air Garden at the United States Air Force Academy. He was also the first living recipient of the Air Force’s highest award, the Air Force Cross, which he received twice. In addition, he received over 65 awards and decorations. More information about his career can be found at wikipedia.org.
After retiring from the Air Force, General Risner organized and served as Executive Director of the Texans’ War of Drug for seven years. He was appointed in 1985 by President Ronald Reagan as a United States Representative to the 40th Session of the United Nations General Assembly.
For years after release from imprisonment in Hanoi, General Risner spoke to thousands throughout the United States, as well as in other countries, about his experiences as a POW, his faith in God, and his love of country.
Robbie and his wife, Dorothy, spent 20 years near Austin, Texas, raising quarter horses on their ranch before moving to San Antonio and finally, Bridgewater, Virginia. He loved golf, riding horses, reading westerns, visiting with his many friends and family across the country, being involved in church, and continuing to be a motivational speaker.
He is survived by the love of his life, Dorothy Risner. Also remaining are his 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 one sister and her spouse, Peggy and Normal Goldstein, and one sister-in-law, Jean Risner.
A graveside service will be held at Arlington Cemetery at 11:00 AM on Thursday, January 23, 2014.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Wounded Warrior Project at www.woundedwarriorproject.org.
Online condolences may be sent to the family at www.johnsonfs.com.