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"I had some sleepless nights before the mission. But most of the time, I was doing what I was trained to do." (Video interview, 40:50)

   Kathleen Anne Nice Robbins
Collection image
Kathleen Robbins at time of interview
War: Vietnam War, 1961-1975
Branch: Air Force
Unit: 463rd Tactical Air Wing
Service Location: Clark Air Force Base, Philippines; Cam Ranh Bay, Vietnam; Mather Air Force Base, California
Rank: Captain
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A chance sighting of the Air Force Academy as a child set Captain Kathleen Anne Robbins’ future in motion: hoping to become an astronaut, she joined the Academy as a cadet in 1964. While the next four years were challenging, she praises both the education and training that she received at the Academy, and her instructors for their dedication to the cadets. Graduating in 1968, she began the first of two years in Vietnam in September 1969. Flying out of Cam Ranh Bay, she served as a navigator aboard C-130 planes, which carried a wide variety of loads--from casualties, to American and Vietnamese troops, to food and supplies, to 15,000 pound bombs. In her interview, she discusses the intricacies of these different types of missions. As well, she relates how her experiences in Vietnam (and during a post-war trip to El Salvador) affected her thoughts on war, and speaks briefly about her experiences as a transgender veteran.

Interview (Video)
»Interview Highlights  (9 clips)
»Complete Interview 
Download: video (76 min.)
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 Video (Interview Excerpts) (9 items)
Deciding to go to the Air Force Academy; first year; learning to adjust to the rules and regulations. (03:35) Highs and lows of time at the Air Force Academy; looking forward to going to Vietnam. (01:26) First days flying in Vietnam; pranks pulled by her crew. (02:16)
Different missions flown while aboard the C-130; Operation Commando Vault. (03:46) Coming under fire during missions; no accidents or crashes; no real damage incurred. (07:08) Learning that there was no place for questioning orders; disappointment in a potential humanitarian mission. (03:16)
Transporting soldiers newly arrived in Vietnam. (02:12) Impact of her experiences in Vietnam on ideas about war; post-war trip to El Salvador; eye-opening experiences. (08:37) Struggling with decision to acknowledge attending Air Force Academy, and to discuss her experiences. (03:29)

Home » Kathleen Anne Nice Robbins
  The Library of Congress  >> American Folklife Center
  October 26, 2011
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