Boyd was born in Kokomo in 1941. He began flying two decades later while he attended Purdue University and participated in the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps. In January 1964, he graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in mathematics.
Boyd entered military service after earning his degree. For the next 37 years, he remained on flying status as a United States Air Force Command pilot, first on active duty and then in the reserves. During the Vietnam conflict, Boyd flew 120 combat missions in an RF-4 Phantom, 100 of them over North Vietnam. Boyd left active duty in 1970 as a captain and with numerous decorations attesting to his bravery and valor—including a Distinguished Flying Cross, an Air Medal with two oak leaf clusters, and a Presidential Unit Citation.
After leaving active-duty military service, Boyd flew for 28 years as an airline pilot. First, he flew for 17 years with Eastern Airlines. Then, he flew for 11 years with United Airlines. Boyd finished his airline career with United, flying the Boeing 747-400 internationally. During his airline career, Boyd Ashcraft flew over 14,000 accident-free hours.
Boyd continued to serve our country in the Air Force Reserve while he flew for the airlines. As he gained experience, he was promoted in rank. By 1978, he was a major commanding a fighter squadron at Grissom Air Force Base. Ten years later, he was the vice commander of a tactical fighter wing and promoted to the rank of Colonel. And in 1994, Boyd Ashcraft was promoted to the rank of Brigadier General.
Following the Gulf War, the active-duty component of the Air Force was reduced, and combat operations were shifted to the reserves under a concept known as “Total Force Integration.” As the Mobilization Assistant to the Commander, United States Air Force in Europe, Boyd made a significant impact relieving over-burdened active-duty forces, becoming a prime motivator of Total Force application throughout that command. In recognition of his leadership, Boyd Ashcraft was promoted to Major General in February 1996.
October 1997 saw General Ashcraft begin his final Air Force duty assignment as the Mobilization Assistant to the Commander, Headquarters Air Education and Training Command at Randolph Air Force Base, Texas.
The Chief of the Air Force Reserve wrote of Boyd’s performance in this assignment: “…you continued your strong advocacy of the Total Force as the driving force behind the Air Force Reserve Command Instructor Pilot program—using Reservists in an area never dreamed of before. Your contributions will be remembered for years to come.”
In July 2000, just prior to his retirement, General Ashcraft was awarded the Distinguished Service Medal and the Air Force Commendation Medal. He flew more than 5,000 hours in the military with over 3,000 of those in fighter aircraft.