Charles Boyd was born in Rockwell City, Iowa, in 1938. He entered the Aviation Cadet Program of the U.S. Air Force in April 1959, and was commissioned a 2d Lt and awarded his pilot wings at Greenville AFB, Mississippi, on July 22, 1960. After completing F-100 Super Sabre combat crew training at Luke AFB, Arizona, and Nellis AFB, Nevada, Lt Boyd served with the 510th Tactical Fighter Squadron at Clark AB in the Philippines from July 1961 to October 1963. His next assignment was with the 355th Tactical Fighter Wing, where he flew F-105 Thunderchief fighter-bombers at George AFB, California, from October 1963 to August 1964, and at McConnell AFB, Kansas, from August 1964 to November 1965. Capt Boyd began flying combat missions in Southeast Asia with the 421st Tactical Fighter Squadron of the 388th Tactical Fighter Wing at Korat Royal Thai AFB, Thailand, in November 1965. Boyd was shot down over Laos on February 26, 1966, and was quickly rescued. He was shot down a second time, this time over North Vietnam, while flying his 105th combat mission and was taken as a Prisoner of War on April 22, 1966. After spending 2,488 days in captivity, he was released during Operation Homecoming on February 12, 1973. Boyd was promoted to Major during the time he was held as a POW. He was briefly hospitalized to recover from his injuries and then attended the University of Kansas through an Air Force Institute of Technology assignment where he completed his Bachelors and Masters degrees. Col Boyd next attended Air War College at Maxwell AFB, Alabama, from August 1976 to May 1977, and then served as special assistant to the chief of staff of Allied Forces Southern Europe in Naples, Italy, until June 1979. From June 1979 to July 1984, he served at Headquarters USAF in the Pentagon. Gen Boyd was next assigned as deputy chief of staff for plans and programs at Headquarters U.S. Air Forces in Europe, where he served at Ramstein AB, West Germany, from July 1984 to December 1986. He then served as Vice Commander of 8th Air Force at Barksdale AFB, Louisiana, from December 1986 to June 1988, followed by another tour at the Pentagon from June 1988 to January 1990. Gen Boyd became Commander of Air University at Maxwell AFB in January 1990, and he served in this position until he was assigned as Deputy Commander in Chief of U.S. European Command in October 1992. He served in this position until his retirement from the Air Force on August 1, 1995. Charles Boyd is the only former POW from the Vietnam War to achieve the rank of O-10.
His Air Force Cross Citation reads:
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.