Retired Sep. 1, 1974. Died March 3, 2001.
Lt. Gen. Jay T. Robbins is vice commander of Military Airlift Command, with headquarters at Scott Air Force Base, Ill. MAC operates the nation's global military airlift system -- plus air rescue, air weather, photo audio-visual, and aeromedical evacuation systems throughout the world.
General Robbins was born in 1919 in Coolidge, Texas, where he graduated from Coolidge High School in 1936. He received a bachelor of science degree from Texas A&M University, in 1940, and a commission as second lieutenant through the Reserve Officers Training Corps.
In July 1941 General Robbins entered active military duty with the Army Air Corps at Randolph Field, Texas, and began flying training as an officer at Corsicana, Randolph and Victoria, Texas. In July 1942 he received his pilot wings and began training in fighter-type aircraft as a member of the 55th Fighter Squadron, 20th Pursuit Group, Morris Field, N.C., and Drew Field, Fla.
In September 1942 during World War II, General Robbins was assigned to the 80th Fighter Squadron, 8th Fighter Group of the Fifth Air Force in the Southwest Pacific area. In January 1944 he became commander of the squadron and in September 1944 became deputy commander of the group. He flew 607 hours on 181 combat missions in P-39 and P-38 aircraft and scored 22 aerial victories, all of which were Japanese fighter-type aircraft. This represents the fourth highest number of enemy aircraft destroyed by an Army Air Corps pilot in the Pacific Theater of Operations. He twice destroyed four enemy fighters during single missions and was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross for each of these battles.
General Robbins was assigned as commander of the 434th Army Air Forces Base Unit at Santa Rosa Field, Calif., from February to November 1945. He next served as squadron operations officer with the 412th Fighter Group (later redesignated 1st Fighter Group), at March Field, Calif., the first organization in the Air Force to be equipped with F-80 Jet fighter aircraft, and later held several operational staff positions.
In June 1947 General Robbins was assigned to Headquarters Tactical Air Command, Langley Air Force Base, Va., where he held key staff positions in plans and operations. In 1949 he served in operational posts in Headquarters Twelfth Air Force, Brooks Air Force Base, Texas. He attended the Air Command and Staff School at Maxwell Air Force Base, Ala., in early 1950 and, after graduation in June, returned to Twelfth Air Force.
In August 1950 he was assigned as assistant chief, Tactical Air Operations Branch, Headquarters Continental Air Command, Mitchel Air Force Base, N.Y., and in January 1951, joined the operational staff of the newly established Air Defense Command at Ent Air Force Base, Colo.
From June 1953 to September 1955, General Robbins served as plans and programs officer of the War Plans Division, Directorate of Plans, at Headquarters U.S. Air Force. He then became a member of the Joint Strategic Plans Group of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. While in this position, he represented the Joint Chiefs of Staff on a special continental defense subcommittee of the National Security Council.
General Robbins was deputy commander and later commander of the 20th Tactical Fighter Wing in England during the period July 1957 to August 1961. In 1960 he led the U.S. Air Force European Gunnery Champions to the "William Tell" weaponry meet in Nevada, flying F-100 Supersabre aircraft across the Atlantic to participate.
In July 1962 he graduated from the National War College, Washington, D.C., and then was named director of flight safety. In January 1963 he became the director of aerospace safety at Norton Air Force Base, Calif. During his tenure as director of aerospace safety, the U.S. Air Force established two consecutive record years in low worldwide aircraft accident rates.
General Robbins became commander of the 313th Air Division in July 1965. In March 1967 he was assigned to the position of chief of staff, Pacific Air Forces, with headquarters at Hickam Air Force Base, Hawaii.
From July 1968 to February 1970 General Robbins was commander of the Twelfth Air Force with headquarters at Bergstrom Air Force Base, Texas. In February 1970 he was named vice commander, Tactical Air Command at Langley Air Force Base, Va., where he remained until August 1972 when he was appointed as vice commander of Military Airlift Command.
General Robbins is a jet-qualified command pilot with nearly 5,000 flying hours, most of which is in fighter type aircraft. His military decorations and awards include the Distinguished Service Cross with oak leaf cluster, Distinguished Service Medal with oak leaf cluster, Silver Star with oak leaf cluster, Legion of Merit with oak leaf cluster, Distinguished Flying Cross with three oak leaf clusters, Air Medal with six oak leaf clusters, and the Air Force Commendation Medal with oak leaf cluster.