OKAY, Okla. (AP) _ For years, Robert Rousselot has remained tight-lipped about his military career.
That's because until recently, neither he nor the CIA had acknowledged what exactly he did. Earlier this month, Rousselot was recognized by the CIA for his service.
It wasn't until then, when the secret was made official, that he felt he could talk about his clandestine adventures.
Rousselot served first as chief pilot and then as vice president of operations for Air America, an airline the CIA secretly bought in the 1950 during the early stages of the Cold War.
The airline had hundreds of employees so the secret of Air America didn't last very long, he said.
``It's like a man walking through a hotel lobby with his zipper open,'' Rousselot said. ``Everyone knows but him.''
But Rousselot remained vigilant in his silence.
``I was always taught to keep my mouth shut and my head in the sand,'' he said.
As a pilot, he was responsible for dropping weapons, foods and guerrillas into countries like China, Vietnam, Korea and Laos which at the time were fighting communism.
As an executive, he helped run the commercial airline that Air America disguised itself as.
In 1950, the CIA secretly arranged to buy Civil Air Transport, which had been dropping medical supplies and food to the Chinese rebels since 1946.
The airline was to help ``support the Republic of China nationalist government.'' CIA-trained teams were stationed all over the region to sabotage communist troops.
Rousselot's job was to support them by supplying the teams food, weapons and sometimes reinforcements. Those successful missions in China led officials to use Civil Air Transport pilots to assist in the Korean War.
By 1959, Civil Air Transport had been renamed ``Air America'' and began competing with commercial airlines while still aiding the U.S government.
``We'd have a pilot one day in uniform with stewardesses, and the next day in camouflage clothing on a midnight flight crossing the water from China,'' Rousselot said.
But by this time, Rousselot was ready to get out of the service. By 1966, he and his wife Annabell had settled in Okay, where they operate a ranch on the banks of Fort Gibson Lake.
Until his recent citation, Rousselot only confided his stories to Annabell, who also was CIA, and his sons.
But even then, he kept some things to himself.
``He told us what he wanted us to know _ not everything,'' said Wade Rousselot. ``There's still stuff he won't divulge.''