Retired Four-Star General Charles Boyd passed away from complications from lung cancer on March 23, 2022 at the age of 83. He was a command pilot with over 2,400 flight hours, and was shot down over Vietnam during the war. He spent nearly 7 years in a Vietnamese POW camp, and became the only former POW from the war to be promoted to a Four Star General in 1992.
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Charles Boyd was awarded the Air Force Cross, the branch’s second highest award from a bombing run on April 22, 1966 in Vietnam. Here is how his citation read:
The Air Force Cross is presented to Charles Graham Boyd, Captain, U.S. Air Force, for extraordinary heroism in connection with military operations against an opposing armed force as a combat strike pilot in an F-105D Thunderchief approximately 35 miles northwest of Hanoi, North Vietnam, on 22 April 1966. On that date, Captain Boyd volunteered to participate in a flight with the mission of destroying Surface to Air Missile (SAM) Sites posing a threat to flights striking a bridge in the Phu Tho area. While attacking a hostile SAM site, Captain Boyd saw two missiles streak toward his aircraft. His superb airmanship and instant reaction enabled him to evade the missiles, which burst very near his aircraft. Without hesitation, Captain Boyd continued the attack on the hostile missile site.
As he made a second pass through the intense flak which filled the sky around him, Captain Boyd’s aircraft received a direct hit by anti-aircraft fire and he was forced to eject himself in a heavily populated, hostile area. The selfless act of making repeated attacks through intense ground fire after barely avoiding two missiles was far beyond the normal call of duty. Through his extraordinary heroism, superb airmanship, and aggressiveness in the face of hostile forces, Captain Boyd reflected the highest credit upon himself and the United States Air Force.Citation of General Charles G. Boyd
While in captivity, Charles Boyd was forced to participate in the “Hanoi March” in which his fellow prisoners were paraded through the streets of Hanoi and severly beaten by civilians. The severe malnutrition he endured caused problems with his vision. He was also tortured during his captivity, but vowed to return home a new man, better than before.
Although vision problems stymied his career as a fighter pilot, Gen. Boyd rode a BMW motorcycle into his late 70s and continued to fly until last fall, including on a T-34 Mentor, the same single-engine aircraft he had trained on. Some of his other habits started to change, however. He noted that he had been “a Republican, but quietly” since his return from Vietnam, and served as a military adviser to Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.) in the 1990s.Stripes
His decorations included: Air Force Cross, Distinguished Service Medal, Silver Star with oak leaf cluster, Legion of Merit with two oak leaf clusters, Distinguished Flying Cross, Bronze Star Medal with “V” device and two oak leaf clusters, Purple Heart with two oak leaf clusters, Defense Meritorious Service Medal, Air Medal with oak leaf cluster and the
Air Force Commendation Medal. He was a member of the SuperSabreSociety, and served in numerous positions after his service.
Rest in Peace, General.
Featured screenshots, USAF/SuperSabreSociety
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