Randal Custard was born on February 13, 1938, in Pennsylvania. He enlisted in the U.S. Air Force on May 21, 1959, and after completing basic training and helicopter mechanic school, he served as a helicopter mechanic from November 1959 until he entered Officer Candidate School in March 1961. SSgt Custard was commissioned a 2d Lt in the U.S. Air Force on September 22, 1961, and then completed pilot training, earning his pilot wings at Moody AFB, Georgia, in October 1962. Lt Custard completed C-130 Hercules training in December 1962, and then served as a C-130 pilot with the 41st Military Airlift Squadron at Charleston AFB, South Carolina, from February 1963 to April 1966, followed by C-123 Provider training and Combat Operations training from April to August 1966. During this time he participated in operations during the occupation of the Dominican Republic in 1965. His next assignment was as a C-123 pilot with the 309th Air Commando Squadron at Tan Son Nhut AB, South Vietnam, from August to November 1966, followed by service as a C-123 pilot with the 12th Air Commando Squadron at Bien Hoa AB, South Vietnam, from November 1966 to September 1967. Capt Custard served as a C-123 pilot with the 7th Air Commando Squadron at Sembach AB, West Germany, from September 1967 to June 1968, and then as an MC-130E Combat Talon I pilot with the 7th Special Operations Squadron at Ramstein AB, West Germany, from July 1968 to July 1972. During this time he served as copilot of the MC-130E "Cherry One" during the Son Tay Raid, a clandestine mission to rescue American Prisoners of War in North Vietnam on November 21, 1970. His next assignment was as an Air Operations Officer, Airlift Duty Officer, and Life Support Officer with the 712th Direct Air Support Center Squadron at Bergstrom AFB, Texas, from July 1972 to September 1973, and then with the 71st Tactical Air Support Group at Bergstrom AFB from September 1973 to April 1974. Capt Custard served with the 602nd Tactical Air Control Group at Bergstrom AFB from April 1974 to October 1975, and then reverted to enlisted status on active duty, while retaining his reserve commission in order to finish out his 20 years of service for retirement. His final assignment was with the 67th Combat Support Group at Bergstrom AFB from October 1975 until his retirement from the Air Force on June 1, 1979.
His Silver Star Citation reads:
Captain Randal D. Custard distinguished himself by gallantry in connection with military operations against an opposing armed force during the Prisoner of War Search and Rescue Operation at Son Tay, North Vietnam, on 21 November 1970. On that date, Captain Custard performed as Pilot on the lead aircraft of a force penetrating deep into enemy territory to rescue United States Prisoners of War interned at Son Tay. Completely aware of the enemy antiaircraft and surface-to-air missile threats enroute and in the objective area, Captain Custard totally disregarded his personal safety and skillfully and accurately performed his duties, thereby enabling the crew to lead the force precisely to the target. As a result of Captain Custard's heroic efforts, the force arrived at Son Tay as planned, the enemy forces were completely surprised, and the mission was successfully completed. By his gallantry and devotion to duty, Captain Custard has reflected great credit upon himself and the United States Air Force.