Click here to jump to Gen. Marcotte's Sanford News profile
Lt. Gen. Ronald C. Marcotte is vice commander of Air Mobility Command, Scott Air Force Base, Ill. The command is responsible for the bulk of the U.S. Air Force's strategic transportation assets and mission. From 12 major air installations in the United States and at nearly 100 other locations -- active duty, Air National Guard and Air Force Reserve worldwide, AMC provides rapid, flexible global reach for America. More than 141,500 people comprise the Total Force air mobility community, operating combat delivery and strategic airlift, air refueling, aeromedical and special mission aircraft in support of national interests.
A graduate of the U.S. Air Force Academy in 1969, the general is a command pilot with more than 3,900 flying hours. He commanded the 2nd and 509th bomb wings and the 801st Wing (Provisional) during Operation Desert Storm, which generated more than 350 successful combat and combat support sorties involving B-52s, KC-135s and KC-10s. He also commanded the 509th Bomb Wing at Whiteman Air Force Base, Mo., from April 1993 until March 1996, where he was responsible for establishing the first and only B-2 Spirit bomber wing. His staff experience includes positions as assistant chief of Strategic Air Command protocol; chief of SAC command presentations; and a tour on the Joint Staff as a division chief of manpower and personnel. The general also served as assistant deputy chief of staff for requirements at Air Combat Command. Prior to assuming command of 8th Air Force, he served as director of plans and policy, J-5, at U.S. Strategic Command.
1969 Bachelor of science degree in engineering, U.S Air Force Academy, Colorado Springs, Colo.
1976 Master's degree in operations research, Air Force Institute of Technology, Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio
1980 Armed Forces Staff College, Norfolk, Va.
1987 Air War College, Maxwell Air Force Base, Ala.
1998 School of Advanced International Studies, Johns Hopkins University
Flight hours: More than 4,000
Aircraft flown: T-33, T-37, T-38, T-39, KC-135, EC-135, KC-10, B-1, B-2, B-52, F-15C, F-15E Strike Eagle and F-16
Defense Superior Service Medal with oak leaf cluster
Legion of Merit with oak leaf cluster
Bronze Star Medal
Meritorious Service Medal with three oak leaf clusters
Air Force Commendation Medal with oak leaf cluster
Joint Meritorious Unit Award
Southwest Asia Service Medal with oak leaf cluster
Kuwait Liberation Medal (Kingdom of Saudi Arabia)
Kuwait Liberation Medal (Kingdom of Kuwait)
Jun 4, 1969
First Lieutenant Dec 4, 1970
Captain Jun 4, 1972
Major Sep 1, 1979
Lieutenant Colonel Feb 1, 1984
Colonel Jun 1, 1988
Brigadier General Jul 1, 1993
Major General Sep 1, 1996
Lieutenant General Sep 1, 1998
SANFORD - While he was growing up, Ronald Marcotte says that he "always had the love of looking skyward." That sentiment led Marcotte to pursue a career in the United States Air Force. A career that has seen Marcotte rise to the rank of lieutenant general (one of only 30 3-star generals in the Air Force). It has also given him the opportunity to fly some of the most sophisticated planes in the Air Force, including the B-52, the B-2 (more commonly known as the stealth bomber), and the U-2 spy plane.
Marcotte's career spans more than three decades, from Vietnam to Operation Desert Storm. He is a command pilot with over 4,000 hours in the air. Some of Marcotte's tours of duty include: the Strategic Air Command, the U.S Strategic Command, and he was an assistant deputy chief of staff at Air Combat Command. Currently, Marcotte is the vice-commander of the Air Mobility Command at Scott Air Force Base in Illinois.
It is for his many accomplishments during his Air Force career that Lt. Gen. Ronald C. Marcotte has been selected as an inaugural member of the Sanford High School Hall of Fame.
While at SHS, Marcotte was a member of the basketball team, the Key Club, and the band where he played trumpet under Vic Firth Sr., the father of SHS Hall of Famer Vic Firth. He also played football during his senior year with fellow SHS Hall of Famer Peter Kostis.
According to Marcotte, he did not consider a military career until his junior year at SHS, when he started thinking about college. Marcotte, who had already been accepted by Northwestern University, decided to apply to the Air Force Academy, even though he didn't think he would be accepted. When he received his acceptance, Marcotte says, "I was surprised."
Upon graduating from SHS in 1965, Marcotte left Sanford to attend the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colo.
After graduating from the academy in 1969 with a degree in engineering, Marcotte was commissioned as a 2nd lieutenant and was sent to Vance Air Force Base in Oklahoma, for pilot training.
In late 1970, Marcotte was transferred to Moody Air Force Base in Georgia., where he served as an instructor pilot.
Marcotte's next assignment sent him overseas to Korat Royal Thai Air Force Base in Thailand, and Clark Air Force Base in the Philippines, where he was a battle staff weapons coordinator and a tactical aircraft instructor from 1974-1975.
Marcotte has been stationed all around the United States, and indeed the world. He says that in his 31 years in the Air Force, he has been relocated 24 times. "That is kind of common in the military," says Marcotte. "I am probably a little above average, but not too far."
Marcotte says that it is difficult to single out one place that he has been stationed as his favorite, "They've all been good," he says.
Marcotte does remember K.I. Sawyer Air Force Base on Michigan's upper peninsula, where he was stationed from 1980-1983, as a "real winter wonderland." Since the base averaged over 200 inches of snow a year, it was pretty well cut off from the outside world. Because the B-52 bomber base was so isolated, Marcotte says that the people at the base became very close. "You end up becoming a big family," says Marcotte.
Speaking of family, when Marcotte commanded the 8th Air Force from 1998-Jan. 2000, he was commanding the unit which his father had previously served. "My dad was in the 8th Air Force in World War II as a gunner in B-17's," says Marcotte. "There's a special linkage there."
While he was commander of the 8th Air Force, Marcotte had the opportunity to meet his commander-in-chief, President Bill Clinton, who had come to thank the troops for their part in operations in Kosovo.
"That was special," says Marcotte. "He's riveting, very interested in what you have to say. A very engaging individual one-on-one."
Whiteman Air Force Base in Mo. is another assignment which holds special memories for Marcotte. While he was stationed there from 1993-1996, Marcotte was responsible for establishing the B-2 stealth bomber wing. "I got to start a new unit from the ground up," says Marcotte. "That was pretty rewarding."
According to Marcotte, he was the first operational officer to fly the B-2, it had previously only been flown by test pilots.
Marcotte calls the stealth bomber "an awesome aircraft."
"You feel like you are able to take the world on," says Marcotte. "It's a very powerful feeling. It brings a special capability to the Air Force."
Marcotte also has had the opportunity to fly in the U-2 spy plane, "A very unique experience," says Marcotte.
Because the U-2 flies at such a high altitude (according to Marcotte, the actual height is classified, but he says the plane flies "above 50,000 feet") anyone who flies in the aircraft must wear a suit similar to an astronaut's space suit.
Marcotte says that the altitude of the U-2 brings a whole new perspective. "Things look awfully small," says Marcotte. "Especially when you see airliners flying below you, and they look as small as when you are on the ground looking up at them."
"You see a lot of the United States when you are up there," Marcotte says. "It's one of those experiences I will never forget."
Another experience which stands out in Marcotte's mind is during Operation Desert Storm, when he commanded the 801st Bombardment Wing (Provisional) out of Moron Air Base in Spain.
Marcotte calls that command "difficult yet rewarding."
"It was difficult in that I had 22 B-52's flying over Iraq in a very hostile situation, and whether you had done your job as a leader to get those people safely home." says Marcotte. According to Marcotte, all of the people under his command came home safely.
To see firsthand what the people under him were going through, Marcotte joined the crew of a B-52 on a bombing mission over Iraq.
"Flying a mission at night&endash;going towards Baghdad and seeing the tracers and the flak coming towards you, and knowing that's where you are going to drop a bomb...It's almost surrealistic," says Marcotte. "That's an experience that is beyond description."
While they were preparing for the mission, Marcotte says it was natural to think about what would happen if something went wrong. "I think that everyone thinks that you may make the ultimate sacrifice," says Marcotte. "There's a little twinge in the back of your mind that this could be your last mission. That's very sobering."
Marcotte also remarked on how veterans of Desert Storm were treated differently on their return home than those who served in Vietnam, "It was like night and day," Marcotte says.
"I came back from Thailand (where Marcotte served during Vietnam) and I wore civilian clothes," says Marcotte. 'When I came back from Desert Storm, I wore my uniform and I was in a ticker-tape parade. It was an uplifting experience."
Looking back on his career, Marcotte says that his experiences in Sanford went a long way in shaping his future. "Obviously we are products of our families and our environments," says Marcotte. "I learned a lot at Sanford, there was a great group of teachers there. I would not have gotten into the Air Force Academy without the teachers in Sanford."
"I was from a small town in Maine, but I was well prepared when I got to the academy. That says a lot about what Sanford High was doing at the time," Marcotte says.
Marcotte says that he was 'taken aback" when he heard of his election to the SHS Hall of Fame. "I was very proud," says Marcotte. "I enjoyed my years in Sanford."
Comments? Corrections? e-mail
© 2004 Sanford High School