5 December 1956 – A Northrop XSM-62 Snark, 53-8172, N-69D test model, fitted with a new 24-hour stellar inertial guidance system, launches from Cape Canaveral Missile Test Annex, Florida. It wanders off-course, ignores destruct command, disappears over Brazil. It is found by a farmer in January 1983. The Day They Lost the Snark By J.
Ronald E. Catton
Hometown: Waukegan, Illinois (Also hometown of Jack Benny, Nat King Cole, and Otto Graham)
Ron ran track and played football in high school. He ran track on a two-year scholarship at Carroll College, Waukesha, WI. While assigned to the 430th TFS, he sat on nuclear alert in the F-86H at Hahn AB, Germany, and later in 1957 with the 428th TFS in the F-100D at Incirlik AB, Turkey.
As a student in the Fighter Weapons School in 1959, he was the first of only two students ever to complete all academic subjects with a 100% score. In 1960, he returned to the FWS as an instructor.
Ron’s tour with the “Thunderbirds” was extended to a third show season to accommodate changes in the team’s training schedule. He flew 253 official airshows, first as the Opposing Solo and later as the Lead Solo.
His 117 combat missions with the 8th TFW included 100 missions over North Vietnam of which 39 were flown against heavily defended targets in Route Pack VI – mostly in some leadership capacity. His awards and decorations include the Silver Star, the Legion of Merit, the Distinguished Flying Cross with 2 OLC, and the Air Medal with 10 OLC. Upon retirement in 1973, Ron entered the financial services industry as a Branch Manager for ITT Financial Services in Spokane, WA.
He later founded Catton Financial Services specializing in pre-retirement planning and post-retirement counseling. He happily admits to having had two story-book careers but is most thankful for his Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.