Retired Sep. 1, 1986. Died Nov. 12, 2000.
Lieutenant General Carl H. Cathey is vice commander in chief, U.S. Air Forces in Europe, with headquarters at Ramstein Air Base, Germany.
General Cathey was born in Statesville, N.C., in 1931. His childhood was spent in Davidson, N.C., where he graduated from Davidson High School in 1949 and attended Davidson (N.C.) College. He later entered the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, N.Y., and graduated in 1955 with a bachelor of science degree and a commission in the U.S. Air Force. He received a master's degree in astronautics and aeronautics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, in 1965 and graduated from the Army War College, Carlisle Barracks, Pa., in 1970.
In August 1950, during the Korean War, General Cathey was called to active duty while serving as a private first class with the North Carolina Army National Guard. He was a member of the 378th Combat Engineer Battalion at Fort Lewis, Wash., when he received an appointment to the U.S. Military Academy. Following graduation in 1955, he attended pilot training at Graham Air Force Base, Fla., and Greenville Air Force Base, Miss.
Upon completion of advanced fighter training in F-86s at Williams Air Force Base, Ariz., he began a three-year assignment in the Tactical Air Command at Myrtle Beach Air Force Base, S.C. He served as maintenance officer with the 355th Tactical Fighter Squadron flying F-100 Super Sabres. He also served on temporary tours of duty in Adana, Turkey, during the Lebanon crisis in 1958 and alert duty at Aviano Air Base, Italy, in 1959.
In 1960 General Cathey was assigned to the 8th Tactical Fighter Wing, Itazuke Air Base, Japan. During this assignment he attended the U.S. Air Force Fighter Weapons School at Nellis Air Force Base, Nev., and later transferred from duty as flight commander in the 35th Tactical Fighter Squadron to become the wing weapons officer.
After receiving his master's degree from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1965, he was assigned as the flying safety officer for the Air Force Contract Management Division of Air Force Systems Command. In January 1967 he attended combat crew training in F-4D Phantom IIs at George Air Force Base, Calif. In July of that year, General Cathey moved to Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., first as director of plans for the 33rd Tactical Fighter Wing and later as operations officer for the 25th Tactical Fighter Squadron. In May 1968 the squadron, which was equipped with F-4D's, deployed to Ubon Royal Thai Air Force Base, Thailand, to join the 8th Tactical Fighter Wing "Wolf Pack." While at Ubon, General Cathey commanded the 497th Tactical Fighter Squadron "Night Owls." He flew 151 combat missions including 45 over North Vietnam.
When he graduated from the Army War College in June 1970, General Cathey was assigned to Headquarters U.S. Air Force, Washington, D.C., as director of concepts and requirements in the Office of the Special Assistant for Sensor Exploitation. In April 1971 he became deputy assistant for sensor matters in the Office of the Deputy Chief of Staff for Plans and Operations.
Moving to Spain in June 1972, General Cathey served as vice commander of the 401st Tactical Fighter Wing at Torrejon Air Base, until August 1972 when he became commander of the 406th Tactical Fighter Training Wing at Zaragoza Air Base. In May 1974 he transferred to Headquarters U.S. Air Forces in Europe, where he was appointed a member of an international working group which developed the plan to establish Headquarters Allied Air Forces Central Europe at Ramstein Air Base. In August 1974 he became the first U.S. Air Force staff officer assigned to this new North Atlantic Treaty Organization headquarters when he was named assistant chief of staff for offensive operations.
General Cathey returned to Air Force headquarters in April 1975 as director of reconnaissance and electronic warfare in the Office of the Deputy Chief of Staff for Research and Development. He was assigned, in September 1975, as deputy director of development and acquisition. From July 1977 to August 1979, he served as chief, U.S. Military Training Mission to Saudi Arabia at Dhahran, Saudi Arabia. He then became deputy chief of staff, requirements at Tactical Air Command headquarters, Langley Air Force Base, Va.
In July 1982 the general was assigned as commander of 3rd Air Force at Royal Air Force Station Mildenhall, England. General Cathey assumed his present duties in June 1983.
The general is a command pilot with more than 4,000 flying hours. His military decorations and awards include the Distinguished Service Medal, Legion of Merit with three oak leaf clusters, Distinguished Flying Cross with oak leaf cluster, Bronze Star Medal, Air Medal with nine oak leaf clusters, Joint Service Commendation Medal, Air Force Commendation Medal with oak leaf cluster, Combat Readiness Medal with oak leaf cluster and "La Cruz de la Clase del Merito Aeronautico con Distinctivo Blanco" presented by the Spanish air force in April 1974.
He was promoted to lieutenant general July 1, 1983, with same date of rank.