Corpus Christi Army Depot pays tribute to late aviation leader, Col. Walter A. Ratcliff

by Brigitte Rox, CCAD Public Affairs Specialist

CCAD Bldg 8

Col. Walter A. Ratcliff was Corpus Christi Army Depot’s tenth commander, serving June 1979 through July 1981. File Photo (RELEASED)

CORPUS CHRISTI, TX (October 23, 2017) --The Corpus Christi Army Depot team is saddened to learn of the passing of former depot commander, Col. Walter A. Ratcliff (Ret.), Oct. 1, 2017. (In tribute to his CCAD leadership, 1979-1981)

Col. Ratcliff began his 28-year career in Army Aviation in 1953 when he joined the US Army. As a master Army Aviator, he flew both fixed-wing and rotary-wing aircraft. He joined the CCAD family in June 1979 when he was 48 years-old. As commander, Ratcliff was on the record about how proud and reassured he was each time he walked through the depot. “There isn’t another depot in the system that comes close to us!” he said four months into his command. Known by his family as a "larger than life" patriotic, intelligent, conservative and loving man, Ratcliff relinquished command of CCAD in July 1981 and retired from the Army with 28 years of distinguished service in US Army Aviation.

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The following content is a reprint of a news story that ran in the June 28, 1979 edition of the Aircraftsman, the Corpus Christi Army Depot's official newsletter. The unnamed author, most likely the CCAD Public Affairs Officer or staff, prepared this piece to formally introduce the then-new depot commander, Col. Ratcliff, to the CCAD workforce.

“Ratcliff from St. Louis”

A native of Shreveport, La., will assume command of the depot tomorrow.

He is Col. Walter A. Ratcliff, 48, a graduate of Centenary College with a BS degree in Petroleum Geology who entered the Army in 1953.

Early in his Army career, he served the 1st Armored Div. He completed Primary Flight Training at Gary Air Force Base, Texas, in 1955. From 1955 to 1958, he attended Army Aviation Tactics Course, Helicopter Pilot Course and Instrument Flight Training School. In 1956, he transferred from Ordnance Corps to the Transportation Corps.

He served as a platoon leader, commanding officer and adjutant for combat aviation units at Ft. Benning, Ga. He completed the Armor Maintenance Officers’ Course at Ft. Knox, Ky., followed by assignments with the 2d Armored Division through July 1960. Upon completion of the Transportation Officers’ Career Course in 1961, Col. Ratcliff commanded the 45th Trans. Co. in Korea. In April 1962, he returned to Ft. Rucker and served with the Transportation Aviation Test and Support Activity and the Aviation Test Board.

From March 1964 to July 1965, he was assigned to US Army Aviation Maintenance Center, Europe. He deployed to Vietnam in October 1965 as commander of the 335th Trans. Co. He returned to the US in September 1966 and was the Army Representative at Grumman Aircraft Corp., Bethpage, N.Y. on the Mohawk Project. He attended Command and General Staff College at Ft. Leavenworth, Kansas, graduating in 1970. He became commander of the 765th Trans. Bn. Midway through his second tour in Vietnam in 1971.

A tour in the Pentagon followed. He was assigned to the Army Aviation Directorate; Office of the Assistant Chief of Staff for the Army’s Attack Helicopter Programs (Cobra, Cheyenne and Advanced Attack Helicopters).

Colonel Ratcliff was assigned as the commander of the US Army Aviation Engineering Flight Activity, Edwards Air Force Base, Calif. from July 1974 to June 1975. Upon his departure from Edwards, he attended the US Army War College, Carlisle Barracks, Pa. Graduating in June 1976, he was assigned to the US Army Aviation Systems Command as Director of Research, Development and Engineering. (Aircraftsman. 28JUN79. Pg. 3).

 

Designated a Center of Industrial and Technical Excellence for rotary wing aircraft, Corpus Christi Army Depot ensures aviation readiness through overhaul, repair, modification, retrofit, testing, recapitalization, and modernization of helicopters, engines and components. This effort includes world-wide on-site field maintenance teams, analytical crash investigations and chemical material process facilities. CCAD serves as a depot training base for active duty Army, National Guard, and reserve units. CCAD, as South Texas' largest industrial employer, employs more than 5500 personnel and contractors providing an overall economic impact of more than $1.14 Billon to the local community.