Retired THUD Pilot And USAF General Charles Boyd Still Loves To Slip The Surly Bonds

Official US Air Force photographs

Born on April 15th 1938 near Rockwell City in Iowa, Charles Graham Boyd learned to fly at an early age after his first flight in a Piper Cub when he was seven years old. Boyd joined the United States Air Force (USAF) in 1959 and was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in 1960. Like most of the pilots of his generation he served in Vietnam, first flying North American F-100 Super Sabres in the Philippines and later Republic F-105 Thunderchief fighter bombers in-country. Shot down on April 22nd 1966 during his 88th mission over North Vietnam (105th overall), Boyd subsequently spent 2,488 days as a prisoner of war (POW) before his release as part of Operation Homecoming in 1973. This video, uploaded to YouTube by AOPALive, profiles Boyd’s life and lifetime love for flying.

Official US Air Force photograph

After his release, Major Boyd remained in the Air Force. Boyd attended the Air Force Institute of Technology and Air War College. He then served as vice commander of the 8th Air Force, Strategic Air Command (SAC) at Barksdale Air Force Base (AFB), as director of plans at USAF Headquarters in Washington DC, and as commander of Air University headquartered at Maxwell AFB in Alabama. He eventually became deputy commander in chief of the United States European Command in Stuttgart-Vaihingen, Germany- his final assignment. Along with his assignments came promotions, eventually rising to full General- he’s the only former POW to achieve 4-star rank. General Boyd retired from the Air Force in 1995.

Official US Air Force photograph

General Boyd’s military awards and decorations include the Air Force Cross, the Silver Star with oak leaf cluster, the Distinguished Flying Cross, the Bronze Star with V and two oak leaf clusters, the Legion of Merit with two oak leaf clusters, the Air Force Distinguished Service Medal, and the Purple Heart with two oak leaf clusters, all earned over Boyd’s more than 2,400 hours of USAF flight time. His work in national security and foreign relations continued for many years after his military service. Today he is a member of several boards of directors in the electronics and software industries. And fittingly, Chuck Boyd flies his own Super Legend Cub and a Beechcraft T-34 Mentor– both also fittingly painted in USAF colors.

Image courtesy University of Kansas