Richard Fulton was born in 1946 in Wadsworth, Ohio. After graduating with a bachelor's degree from Arizona State University, he entered Officer Training School on October 3, 1969, and was commissioned a 2d Lt in the U.S. Air Force at Lackland AFB, Texas, on December 22, 1969. Lt Fulton attended Undergraduate Pilot Training at Randolph AFB, Texas, from January to July 1970, and then completed Undergraduate Navigator Training at Mather AFB, California, in April 1971. He next completed F-4 Phantom II Combat Crew Training at George AFB, California, in November 1971, followed by service as an F-4 Weapon Systems Officer with the 555th Tactical Fighter Squadron at Udorn Royal Thai AFB, Thailand, from January 1972 until he was forced to eject over North Vietnam and was taken as a Prisoner of War on June 13, 1972. After spending 289 days in captivity, Capt Fulton was released during Operation Homecoming on March 28, 1973. He was briefly hospitalized to recover from his injuries at March AFB, California, from March to October 1973, and then attended Undergraduate Pilot Training at Williams AFB, Arizona, where he earned his pilot wings in October 1974. His next assignment was as an Instructor Pilot with the 35th Flying Training Squadron at Reese AFB, Texas, from October 1974 to January 1982, followed by service as a C-130H Hercules pilot with the 772nd Tactical Airlift Squadron of the 463rd Tactical Airlift Wing at Dyess AFB, Texas, from January 1982 to June 1986. His final assignment was as a C-130E pilot for the 7405th Operations Squadron and then as Chief of Safety for the 7575th Operations Group at Rhein-Main AB, West Germany, from September 1986 until his retirement from the Air Force on November 1, 1989.
His 2nd Distinguished Flying Cross Citation reads:
First Lieutenant Richard J. Fulton distinguished himself by extraordinary achievement while participating in aerial flight as a Weapon Systems Officer near Hanoi (North Vietnam) on 16 April 1972. On that date, Lieutenant Fulton was flying an F-4D fighter aircraft on a mission to provide protection from hostile interceptors for sixteen strike aircraft hitting targets in the Hanoi area. While flying in extremely hazardous weather conditions and taking ground fire from heavy anti-aircraft guns and surface-to-air missiles, Lieutenant Fulton successfully chased off two flights of hostile aircraft. The protection given the strike force by Lieutenant Fulton resulted in the successful completion of a very difficult mission. The professional competence, aerial skill, and devotion to duty displayed by Lieutenant Fulton reflect great credit upon himself and the United States Air Force.