Veterans

July 20, 2012

U.S. Air Force Weapons School veteran visits Nellis

Tags:
Senior Airman Jack Sanders
99th Air Base Wing Public Affairs

Retired Colonel Ronald E. Catton

Retired Col. Ronald E. Catton, a graduate and former instructor from the weapons school, visited U.S. Air Force Weapons School Airmen July 13 to share his knowledge and experiences.

Catton attended the then Fighter Weapons School more than 50 years ago. He was the first of only two students ever to complete the course with a 100 percent score in all academic subjects. Catton also flew with Col. John Boyd, then the chief of academics at the Weapons School.

Boyd Hall here was named after Boyd. He was known as “40-second Boyd” because he boasted that starting from a position of disadvantage, he could defeat any opposing pilot in air combat maneuvering in less than 40 seconds.

“I can remember consciously thinking on my way out to Nellis to be a student here that I was going to [beat him], and I was going to perform well enough to be an instructor in the weapons school,” Catton said.

Catton got his chance but was unable to outmaneuver Boyd. One of Boyd’s tactics was to flat plate the F-100 to slow the airframe and reappear behind his adversary.

I think it was about 13 seconds later, he was on my tail,” Catton said. “It appeared as he was doing a barrel roll when in fact he was flat plating the aircraft, and you would flush forward on him. And, he didn’t do that to show off. He did that because his primary platform subject was Air Combat Maneuvering, and you had to be able to walk your talk.

“It was important he had a way to get your attention, and I’ll tell you, that got your attention,” he said.

Of Catton’s class of 10 students three returned to the Fighter Weapons School as instructors and two continued on to become Thunderbird pilots. Catton was one of those students who did both.

“Nellis is near and dear to my heart as you might imagine after those wonderful experiences,” he said.

Retired Colonel Ronald E. Catton, who visited the U.S. Air Force Weapons School here, July 13, attended the school (then referred to as Fighter Weapons School) more than 50 years ago. He was the first of only two students to ever complete the course with a 100 percent score in all academic subjects.

Catton warned students at the weapons school not to take lightly the challenges they face ahead of them.

“The lesson that I took away from my weapons school student experience was to never ever, ever, ever give up on yourself or your instructors or the school itself,” Catton said. “It was a tough school then, and it’s a tough school now. It’s in a very tempting environment being so close to Las Vegas.”

Catton’s experiences gave the Airmen attending the weapons school a glimpse at the way it began and developed. He said there were three things that stood out to him as notable changes to the school, the first of which is the amount of participants.

“We were just a very small organization here perhaps 10 instructors and 10 academic instructors, all of whom flew,” Catton said. “I think we had 10 students per class in the Fighter Weapons School, and it lasted about six months or so as it does now,” Catton said.

Secondly, Catton said he noticed that with so little students the school had a different focus.

“It was focused on fighter close air support and air combat maneuvering,” he said. “Of course today, it’s the full spectrum of war fighting. Maybe, the third and most important thing [that’s changed] is the people.”

Coming from a world view of military members changing from the Vietnam era to today, Catton said it’s good to see the way things have come.

“I sense an enthusiasm for the mission here that is very positive,” Catton said. “It’s very uplifting to someone who has been out of the military for 40 years now.”

Catton said he’s impressed with the pride and work ethic of not just Air Force Airmen, but all service members.

“The old dogs, like myself, we’re very proud of you young war fighters and how you stepped up to be counted. We didn’t anticipate that given what we got coming back from Vietnam.”

From taking on Boyd to acing the Fighter Weapons School to touring as a Thunderbird, Catton said he’s enjoyed his time at Nellis.

“I think it was Pericles who said, ‘we must wait until the evening to see how splendid the day has been.’ And now at almost age 80, I’ve had a splendid day,” Catton said. “The Air Force and Nellis and the weapons school, the Thunderbirds and the combat experience and all of that put together – it’s just been a splendid day for me.”




All of this week's top headlines to your email every Friday.


 
 

 
U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Timothy Young

926th Wing activated at Nellis, Creech

U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Timothy Young Col. Ross Anderson, 926th Wing commander, speaks to the crowd as Maj. Mckay Kingry, 926th WG inspector general, watches during the wing’s activation ceremony Dec. 5 at Nelli...
 
 
U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Alexander Guerrero

82nd Airborne integrates with USAFWS for JFE 14B

U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Alexander Guerrero Eleven C-130H Hercules’ from various Air National Guard units and 13 C-130J Super Hercules’ from the 317th Airlift Group at Dyess Air Force Base, Texas, prepare to...
 
 

‘Tis the season to drink responsibly

KEESLER AIR FORCE BASE, Miss. — It’s that time of year when holiday parties and late night celebrations begin to fill our calendars and we look forward to spending time with family and friends to celebrate our own special reasons for the season. Every Christmas Eve, I celebrate my life and I give thanks for...
 

 

Asking for help is sign of strength not weakness

KEESLER AIR FORCE BASE, Miss. — Growing up I was a big fan of Muhammad Ali. He was the world heavyweight boxing champion and unashamedly referred to himself as “The Greatest.” I vividly remember a reporter asking Ali, “When did you know that you were ‘The Greatest?’” Before Ali could answer, the reporter offered, “Perhaps...
 
 
nellis-turkey

Nellis, Creech Airmen celebrate Thanksgiving, family

U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Nadine Barclay Col. James Cluff, 432nd Wing/432nd Air Expeditionary Wing commander, serves food during a Thanksgiving celebration at Creech Air Force Base, Nev., Nov. 18. The wing hosted the e...
 
 

Nellis holiday celebration lights up night sky

U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Mikaley Towle Col. Richard Boutwell, 99th Air Base Wing commander, pulls the switch to light up the Christmas tree and menorah during the lighting ceremony at the chapel parking lot at Nellis Air Force Base, Nev., Dec. 4. Approximately 100 people came out to witness of the...
 




0 Comments


Be the first to comment!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>


Directory powered by Business Directory Plugin