Col. Robin Olds, the commander of the 8th Tactical Fighter Wing, hosted a Tactics Conference at Ubon Air Force Base, Thailand in November of 1966. It included United States Air Force, Navy and Marine aircrews that were flying combat missions over the “Red River Valley of North Vietnam.” In May of 1967, the 388th Tactical Fighter Wing at Korat, RTAFB, Thailand, held the first of 5 practice reunions in Thailand. Others were held at Ubon, in August of 1967, Takhli in November of 1967, Udorn in March of 1968 and Korat in June of 1968.
In 1969, Brig Gen Robin Olds met with Col Scrappy Johnson to discuss the formation of a permanent association for the Red River Valley Fighter Pilots Association. The association was subsequently incorporated. In 1969, Col Larry Pickett held the first stateside practice reunion at Wichita, KS. It was a great success.
The organization, its purposes and efforts, were directed toward generating awareness of the Prisoners of War (POW), and aircrews Missing in Action/Killed in Action (MIA/KIA) and their families.
The scholarship program is a major priority of this organization. The fund was established at the San Antonio reunion in 1970 as a result of concern for the families of fellow “River Rats” who were POW/MIA/KIA. The hat was passed and three – $1,000 scholarships were awarded.
In August of 1973, after the Prisoners of War had returned home, the first “real” reunion was held in Las Vegas, NV.
On April 30, 1975, the name was amended to “Red River Valley Association, Inc.” On July 22, 1976, the 501(c)(3) status was granted by the IRS.
In 1998 the scholarship program was expanded to include losses due to non-combat operational accidents.
The association now provides scholarships to children of United States military personnel MIA/KIA in armed conflicts from Southeast Asia through the present. Additionally, dependents of aircrew members killed in aircraft accidents now qualify for scholarships.
Since 1970, “The River Rats” have awarded more than 1,090 scholarship grants with a value of over 1.9 million dollars.
The Red River Valley Association continues to have reunions and award scholarships annually.
Membership is open to all U.S. military designated aircrew members (all positions). To apply, go to the Rats membership page. New applicants please complete the form, print, sign, and mail with all required enclosures. Mail the completed and signed application to:
RRVA National Office
P.O. Box 1553
Front Royal, VA 22630-0033
How to Donate Money
With the GiveDirect credit card processing service no fees are taken on your VISA or MasterCard donation. The River Rats receive 100% of your gift. However, a low fee of 2.85% is deducted from donations made with an American Express credit card.