Retired May 1, 1979.
Brigadier General Walter B. Ratliff is the deputy director of operations and readiness, Office of the Deputy Chief of Staff, Plans and Operations, Headquarters U.S. Air Force.
General Ratliff was born in 1929, in Atlanta, Ga. He graduated from high school in Norman, Okla., in 1948 and attended the University of Oklahoma before entering the U.S. Air Force. General Ratliff graduated from the University of Omaha with a bachelor's degree in 1964 and earned a master's degree in international relations from The George Washington University in 1973. He graduated from the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College in 1966 and the National War College in 1973.
General Ratliff entered the U.S. Air Force in April 1951 and attended pilot training in the aviation cadet program. He was commissioned as a second lieutenant in September 1952 and assigned to Randolph Air Force Base, Texas, where he received B-29 training. In December 1952 he attended the C-97 Transition Training School at West Palm Beach, Fla., and was subsequently assigned to the 91st Strategic Reconnaissance Wing at Lockbourne Air Force Base (now Rickenbacker Air Force Base), Ohio, where he served as a pilot and aircraft commander. In July 1955 he was assigned to the 421st Air Refueling Squadron, Yokota Air Base, Japan, as an aircraft commander and later served as chief of standardization.
From April 1959 to June 1963, General Ratliff served with the 34th Air Refueling Squadron at Offutt Air Force Base, Neb., as a KC-135 aircraft commander. While on this assignment he completed the Central Flight Instructor Course at Castle Air Force Base, Calif., and was selected for standardization board duties. During this tour with the 34th Air Refueling Squadron, General Ratliff flew some of the first airborne command post missions from Offutt Air Force Base when this concept was being developed.
He next was assigned to Headquarters Strategic Air Command at Offutt Air Force Base as an operations planner on the Joint Strategic Target Planning staff from July 1963 to August 1965.
Following graduation from the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College at Fort Leavenworth, Kan., in August 1966, General Ratliff was sent to Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., Auxiliary Field #9 (Hurlburt Field), for training as a forward air controller. The following month he was assigned to the 19th Tactical Air Support Squadron, serving as air liaison officer and forward air controller with the 10th Vietnamese Division in Phnoc Tuy Province, Republic of Vietnam.
From October 1967 until May 1969, he served at Headquarters U.S. Air Force, Washington, D.C., as a planning and programming officer in the Directorate of Plans, Office of the Deputy Chief of Staff, Plans and Operations. He was then selected to be aide to the chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff, and served as Air Force aide for General Earl G. Wheeler and later, Admiral Thomas H. Moorer.
Following graduation from the National War College at Fort McNair, Washington, D.C., in June 1973, General Ratliff was assigned to the 305th Air Refueling Wing, Grissom Air Force Base, Ind., where he served as deputy commander until June 1974, when he assumed command of the wing. General Ratliff became commander of the 40th Air Division, SAC, Wurtsmith Air Force Base, Mich., in February 1975.
In July 1977 he was assigned as deputy director of operations and readiness, Office of the Deputy Chief of Staff, Plans and Operations, Headquarters U.S. Air Force, Washington, D.C.
A command pilot, General Ratliff has accumulated more than 8,000 flying hours, including more than 1,000 combat hours. His military decorations and awards include the Legion of Merit, Distinguished Flying Cross, Meritorious Service Medal, Air Medal with 16 oak leaf clusters, Joint Service Commendation Medal with oak leaf cluster, Air Force Commendation Medal, Navy Commendation Medal with Combat "V" Device and the Republic of Vietnam Gallantry Cross with silver star.
He was promoted to the grade of brigadier general Sept. 1, 1975, with date of rank Aug. 17, 1975.