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Prominent fighter pilot, POW Robbie Risner dies at 88

Robbie Risner, a Korean War fighter ace and Vietnam prisoner of war who lived much of his life in Oklahoma City, died Tuesday in Virginia. He was 88.
BY BRYAN DEAN Published: October 24, 2013

James Robinson “Robbie” Risner, a retired Air Force brigadier general who was a fighter ace in Korea and prisoner of war in Vietnam, died Tuesday at his home in Virginia, his wife said. He was 88.

Risner lived in Oklahoma City for much of his life when he was not serving active duty with the Air Force, said his wife, Dot Risner.

After Robbie Risner retired, they lived in Texas for many years, and Robbie Risner returned to Oklahoma often to speak about being a POW and his other war experiences.

Risner began his career toward the end of World War II and later joined the Oklahoma Air National Guard. He was called to active duty in 1951 with the 185th Tactical Fighter Squadron.

Flying the F-86 Sabre, Risner scored his first enemy kill in August 1952. Over the next five months, he became an ace, shooting down a total of eight MiG-15s.

Retired Maj. Gen. Stanley F. Newman, of Oklahoma City, served with Risner in the 185th Tactical Fighter Squadron.

“My dear old friend and flying buddy back in the halcyon P-51 days of the old 185th Fighter Squadron, has come to the end of his glorious and distinguished trail,” Newman said. “He and I were like brothers back then, and I was honored to be his close friend.”

Risner stayed in the Air Force after the war and was called to combat duty again in Vietnam in 1964. There, as a lieutenant colonel, he led the 67th Tactical Fighter Squadron, flying F-105D Thunderchief fighter-bombers.

Risner led multiple bombing raids against targets in North Vietnam, earning an Air Force Cross, the second-highest award for valor given to members of the Air Force.

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