‘Lucky socks’ return to Wolf Pack
KUNSAN AIR BASE, Republic of Korea -- Whether they are truly lucky or not, Brig. Gen. Robin Olds' lucky socks proved their tenacity as they made their way back to the Wolf Pack on May 13, 2014 at Kunsan Air Base, Republic of Korea.
"About five years ago I had managed to get a hold of his lucky socks and also his flying watch from World War II," said John Dibbs, The Plane Picture Company creative director and friend of Olds. "The Wolf Pack is such a legendary outfit. I thought it would be an appropriate place for them to reside."
Dibbs got to know the original Wolf for a week while he escorted the retired general to England for an airshow hosted to honor World War II veterans. However, that was not the first time he had heard of the historic aviator.
"Who would've thought, growing up as a kid I used to read about Robin Olds and growing up as a kid I used to watch F-16s flying in airshows. You fast forward a few years and I not only got to know Robin Olds, but I was lucky enough to acquire his socks," said Dibbs. "It's something people can connect to that's real and was his and there in combat."
The cherished memento looks far from pristine, but this timeworn appearance is what makes the pair so special. Every tear and stain represents the tenure of Wolf 1 as he wore them on every mission he ever flew.
"In some ways, it's so great to be able to use these as somewhat of an education tool so that we can talk about what Wolf 1 was trying to do when he called us the Wolf Pack," said Col. S. Clinton Hinote, Wolf 53 and previous 8th Fighter Wing commander. "He led the wing in a way so that everybody knew that they were a part of something bigger and something special."
Hinote accredits the success of the 8th FW to Olds' "Wolf Pack" mentality that is engrained in the culture: live like a pack, train like a pack and fight like a pack. He hopes that as he says goodbye to Kunsan Air Base and moves on to his next endeavor, Old's legacy continues on.
"You see it; you feel it when you're here. We are carrying on a tradition that lasted at least since World War II," said the outgoing commander. "This is the most storied wing in the Air Force and I feel lucky, and somewhat humbled, to lead it."
As the Wolf Pack continues to live the tradition Olds created, Dibbs wishes to enhance the mission through the historic lucky charm.
"I think they're kind of lucky anyway; you can't help but think that with their connection to the legacy of Robin Olds," Dibbs said. "It speaks to the legacy of this great unit. It's nice in some small way to mark that. I think he'd like the idea that they're here [Kunsan Air Base] and inspiring future generations."