Retired Aug. 1, 1981. Died Dec. 27, 1999.
Brig. Gen. John E. Catlin Jr. is the deputy chief of staff, engineering and services, Headquarters Strategic Air Command, Offutt Air Force Base, Neb. He is responsible for planning, budgeting and managing facility and utility system operation, maintenance, repair and new construction programs at major SAC bases worldwide. In addition he oversees fire protection and crash rescue operations, family housing management, food service, billeting, mortuary affairs, laundry and dry cleaning services, and Army and Air Force Exchange Service and commissary customer advocacy matters for the command.
General Catlin was born in Harrisonburg, Va., in 1926. His early schooling was in Radburn and Ridgewood, N.J. He graduated from high school at Christ School in Arden, N.C. General Catlin received a bachelor of science degree in civil engineering in 1951 from the Virginia Military Institute. He also earned a master's degree in civil engineering from Oklahoma State University, Stillwater, through the Air Force Institute of Technology program in 1960.
Following high school he joined the Army Air Corps and served as an aircraft crew chief and flight engineer, primarily in the Aleutian Islands and Alaska. He was honorably discharged as a sergeant. He then worked on Okinawa for a year as an aircraft maintenance instructor before entering the Virginia Military Institute.
He received his commission in the U.S. Air Force as a distinguished graduate from the Reserve Officers' Training Corps program at the Virginia Military Institute in 1951. He then received flight training at Malden Air Base, Mo., and Vance Air Force Base, Okla. After graduation in September 1952, he served with the 509th Bombardment Wing at Walker Air Force Base, N.M., and Pease Air Force Base, N.H. During these tours of duty he accumulated 2,600 flying hours, primarily in tankers, and held various positions which included maintenance officer, flight test officer, instructor pilot and chief of the tanker standardization board. General Catlin then entered Oklahoma State University in July 1958.
Upon receiving his master's degree in March 1960, he was assigned to the 3977th Petroleum Pipeline Squadron at San Pablo Air Base, Spain, as the base civil engineer on a 500-mile pipeline in Spain. His work there earned him the U.S. Air Force 1962 Meritorious Professional Achievement Award for Air Force Civil Engineering and, in 1964, his first Legion of Merit. Upon his return to the United States in March 1964, he was assigned as chief of the Civil Engineering Management and Analysis Office, Headquarters U.S. Air Force, Washington, D.C., where he was instrumental in the establishment of the Base Engineering Automated Management System. While there he led a specialized petroleum, oil and lubricants construction Prime BEEF team deployment to the Republic of Vietnam.
In July 1968 General Catlin was assigned to the Republic of Vietnam as the executive officer to the Army chief of the Construction Directorate, Military Assistance Command Vietnam headquarters in Saigon. Returning to the United States in April 1969, he was assigned to the Bare Base Equipment System Program Office at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio. He served there in various positions beginning as chief engineer and completing his tour of duty as the program director. From June 1973 to September 1975, he was assigned as chief, U.S. Air Force Military Family Housing, Directorate of Civil Engineering, Headquarters U.S. Air Force, where he was responsible for the management of the worldwide inventory of military family housing. General Catlin then transferred to Headquarters United States Air Forces in Europe, Ramstein Air Base, Germany, as the deputy chief of staff for engineering and services. He assumed his present duties in July 1980.
The general is a registered professional engineer in Virginia and New Hampshire. He is a member of the American Society of Civil Engineers, the American Institute of Plant Engineers and the Society of American Military Engineers. He is a fellow in the latter organization as well as a post chapter president and recipient of the Goethal's Medal.
His military decorations and awards include the Distinguished Service Medal, Legion of Merit with oak leaf cluster, Bronze Star Medal, Meritorious Service Medal, Air Force Commendation Medal with oak leaf cluster, Good Conduct Medal, Vietnam Service Medal with four service stars, Republic of Vietnam Gallantry Cross with palm and Republic of Vietnam Campaign Medal.
He was promoted to brigadier general March 1, 1979, with date of rank Feb. 24, 1979.