Lloyd W. "Fig" Newton has made myriad contributions to US aviation history from F-4 Phantoms in Vietnam, to the Thunderbirds, to numerous command positions in the USAF. A native of Ridgeland, South Carolina, he earned his Bachelor's degree in Aviation Education at Tennessee State University, and was commissioned in 1966 through AFROTC as a distinguished graduate. After pilot training at Williams AFB, Arizona, he proceeded to George AFB, California, where he trained for combat in the F-4E Phantom II. In April 1968, Newton reported to Da Nang Air Base, South Vietnam, where he served 12 months and flew 269 combat missions, including 79 over North Vietnam. After Vietnam, he continued flying the F-4 at the 523d Tactical Fighter Squadron of the 405th Tactical Fighter Wing, Clark AB, Philippines.
He returned to the US in 1974, serving as an F-4 instructor pilot at Luke AFB, Arizona. He was selected to join the Thunderbirds in November 1974, holding a number of positions including slot pilot and right wingman. In December 1978, Newton became a congressional liaison officer with the US House of Representatives. In February 1982, he transitioned to the F-16 Falcon and was assigned as Assistant Deputy Commander for Operations (ADO) of the 8th Tactical Fighter Wing, Kunsan AB, South Korea. The following year he was assigned as ADO, 388th Tactical Fighter Wing, Hill AFB, Utah. Newton received his Master's degree in Public Administration from George Washington University in 1985.
After school, he served first as Assistant Deputy Director for Operations and Training, Directorate of Operations, and as Assistant Director of Special Projects, Directorate of Plans, both at Headquarters Air Force. He attended Harvard University's National Security Senior Executives Course in 1987. In July 1988, General Newton assumed command of the 71st Air Base Group, Vance AFB, Oklahoma. Ten months later he became the Commander, 71st Flying Training Wing. Newton held a succession of command positions, serving as Commander, 12th Flying Training Wing, Randolph AFB, Texas, and Commander, 833d Air Division and the 49th Fighter Wing, Holloman AFB, New Mexico.
He is currently the Director of Operations (J3), US Special Operations Command at MacDill AFB, Florida. General Newton is a command pilot with more than 4,000 flying hours. His military awards and decorations include 2 Legions of Merit, 2 Distinguished Flying Crosses, 2 Meritorious Service Medals, 17 Air Medals, Air Force Commendation Medal, Air Force Outstanding Unit Award, Philippines Presidential Unit Citation, Vietnam Service Medal, and Republic of Vietnam Campaign Medal.*
It was a hot, humid summer day as "Fig" Newton strapped on his F-4E Phantom II for another "routine" mission over the North. After reading the monthly update to the rules of engagement and signing off on the "right" way to fight this conflict, he was thinking, "It's a war!" It's hard for rules and paper to argue with SA-2s, AAA, and the hair standing up on the back of your neck. "So let's go downtown and take the fight to the enemy..."