Wayne Whatley was born on February 17, 1928, in Wichita Falls, Texas. He enlisted in the U.S. Navy on May 26, 1945, and served as a Machinist Mate until leaving active duty and going into the Naval Reserve on July 29, 1946. Whatley served in the reserves until September 18, 1949, and then completed college and was commissioned a 2d Lt in the U.S. Air Force through the Air Force ROTC program at the University of Oklahoma on May 25, 1951. Lt Whatley went on active duty beginning June 10, 1951, and served as an aircraft maintenance officer at Reese AFB, Texas, from June to November 1951, followed by Pilot Training from November 1951 to January 1953. He then completed F-86 Sabre Combat Crew Training in March 1953, and served with the 334th Fighter Interceptor Squadron of the 4th Fighter Interceptor Wing in Korea from May 1953 to April 1954. Capt Whatley next served with the 614th, the 613th, the 612th, and the 389th Fighter Bomber Squadron at Alexandria AFB (later renamed England AFB), Louisiana, from April 1954 to October 1958, followed by service as operations officer for the 366th and then the 401st Tactical Fighter Wing at England AFB from October 1958 to September 1959. He received an Air Force Institute of Technology assignment to complete his Aeronautical Engineering degree from September 1959 to March 1960, and then served as a flight test maintenance officer at Brookley AFB, Alabama, from April 1960 to April 1965. His next assignment was as an F-105 Thunderchief pilot with the 36th Tactical Fighter Squadron at Yokota AB, Japan, from April 1965 to June 1966, followed by service with the 34th Tactical Fighter Squadron at Korat Royal Thai AFB, Thailand, from June to November 1966. Col Whatley's final assignment was as an aircraft maintenance officer, flight test officer, and flight test detachment chief at Greenville AFB, South Carolina, from November 1966 until his retirement from the Air Force on May 1, 1970. Wayne Whatley died on September 19, 2007, and was buried at the BG William C. Doyle Veteran's Memorial Cemetery in Wrightstown, New Jersey.
His Air Force Cross Citation reads:
Major Wayne N. Whatley distinguished himself by extraordinary heroism in connection with military operations against an opposing armed force in Southeast Asia on 30 June 1966. On that date, Major Whatley led a flight of four F-105 aircraft against an extremely heavily defended petroleum, oil, and lubricant storage complex in North Vietnam. By exhibiting extraordinary flying ability, leadership qualities, and personal bravery in the face of intense hostile fire, Major Whatley successfully struck the assigned target, thus contributed greatly to the objectives of his country. Although sustaining hits on his aircraft, Major Whatley, disregarding his personal safety, stayed with his downed wingman and directed a successful rescue operation. Through his extraordinary heroism, superb airmanship, and aggressiveness in the face of hostile forces, Major Whatley reflected the highest credit upon himself and the United States Air Force.