Ralph H. Marionneaux
Lt Col
U. S. A. F.

Ralph was born in Monroe, Louisiana, to Ralph Emile and Mary Marionneaux as a ninth generation Louisianan. His father worked for Monroe Wholesale Drug Company. Ralph began selling Saturday Evening Post and Ladies Home Journal at age six. He later worked for Eureka Grocery Store. Dinners during the Depression, he says, often consisted of eggs and grits, with fried grits for breakfast. He recalls listening to serials and comedies on the radio. Fans helped cool summer heat. His mother dyed their clothes to make it appear as if they were wearing new attire. Ralph finished high school in 1948 and was enrolled at Northeast Louisiana State University when the Korean War began. He enlisted in the U.S. Air Force and entered service on October 10, 1951. He completed his training at Sheppard Field in Wichita Falls, Texas, and then reported to Keesler Air Force Base in Biloxi, Mississippi, for Electronic Fundamentals School. He tested successfully for pilot training, and was sent to three bases in Texas, first Hondo Air Force Base in Hondo, then Webb Air Force Base at Big Spring and later to Laughlin Air Force Base in Del Rio. He was then stationed in Pittsburgh with the 42nd Squadron. In 1958 he was sent to George Air Force Base in Victorville, California, where he flew F-102 fighter jets for two years. He was sent to Zaragoza, Spain in 1960 where he served as flight commander and assistant flight commander among other positions. Returning to the States in 1963, he served as a member of an inspector-general team at Richards-Gebaur Air Force Base in Kansas City. After volunteering for duty in Vietnam he was sent in May of 1966 to open a command post at Nha Trang in the First Air Commando Wing. There he flew a "Gooney Bird," a C-47 armed with Gatlin guns. His missions were what he calls "psy-war" or psychological warfare. He also flew A-1 and 0-1 jets as well as the C-123, which was used to supply army outposts. He also worked in a program called Civic Action Officers. He wrote to his parents in Monroe about the living conditions of Vietnamese children, whereupon they initiated drives for clothing and shoes that he delivered to the youngsters. "We could have won the thing, and we should have won," he says in summing up the Vietnam War. When he returned to the States in May of 1967 he was stationed at Colorado Springs. Ralph evaluated fighter operations in simulated warfare exercises, and also helped create a new rating system for air base operations. In 1971 he was sent to Tyndall Air Force Base in Panama City, Florida. He was grounded from flight because of a skull fracture, and never flew again. He soon retired and returned to West Monroe. During his service he earned a degree in economics from the University of Mississippi. After his military career Ralph worked for Howard Brothers Discount Stores, and as a sales representative for an oil field supply company. He also served on the West Monroe school board. He married Geraldine Weir in December of 1953. After the couple divorced he married Patricia Rachael in December of 1981. He has three children and eight grandchildren.