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Pioneering Air Force Vet Remembered

Isaac ‘Ike’ Payne IV grew up in Portland

10/31/2018, 2:46 p.m.
Isaac 'Ike' Sanders Payne IV, born April 16, 1940, passed away Friday Oct. 19, 2018 from heart failure. He was ...
Isaac ‘Ike' Payne is pictured (from left) as a member of the U.S. Air Force and through the years.

Isaac 'Ike' Sanders Payne IV, born April 16, 1940, passed away Friday Oct. 19, 2018 from heart failure.

He is survived by daughters Kimberly Carter of Chula Vista, Calif. and Noralyn Clemons of Santa Clarita, Calif. He leaves six grandchildren, Jacob and Kaylee Carter, and Charles, Joseph, Laila and John Clemons; and a niece, Julianne Johnson-Weiss of Portland. He was predeceased by his parents, Martha and Isaac Payne III, a sister, Margaret Payne Isaacs and a niece, Benita Lynn Payne, all were long time residents of Portland.

Isaac was born to a farming family in Malakoff, Texas and when he was five, his family moved to Oregon for better opportunities, first to Vanport, then Portland after the great flood. He attended grade school and high school in Portland and two years of college at Portland State University. He was active in his church, BYPU and the Boy Scouts (achieving the highest level, Eagle Scout), and participated in high school track, cross-country and wrestling, as well as intercollegiate wrestling and rugby.

Ike entered the Air Force Academy based on the nomination by U.S. Rep. Edith Green in 1959. He was one of the first of three Black Americans to graduate from the USAFA. They graduated in 1963 and played pioneering roles in the integration of the Academy. From there he earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Engineering Science and Basic Science and later a Master of Science degree in Systems Management.

After his 1963 graduation he attended Pilot Training in Arizona and began an active career in the military as an office and a gentleman which included assignments in New York, California, Vietnam, Ohio, Maryland, New Mexico, Washington, D.C. and so on. His roles included service as a B-52 co-pilot in the 668th Bomb Squadron, 4515th Combat Crew Training Squadron, flying combat missions as a forward air controller assigned to the 19th Tactical Air Support Squadron, aircraft commander in the 744th Bomb Squadron, test pilot and flight commander in the 4950th Test Wing.

Next he was assigned to the Pentagon, US Air Force Headquarters as security assistance requirements officer, Special Assistant for International Programs, Deputy Chief of Staff for Research, Development, and Acquisition, Air Launched Cruise Missile Combined Test Force chief of operations, B-52 Integrated Weapon System Test Force director, and 6510th Test Wing Deputy for Strategic Test, Director of Safety and Flight Operations. His final active duty assignment was Chief, Tactical Systems Development, National Security Agency

He accumulated over 4,600 hours of flight time in more than 35 different aircraft (including the B-52, B-57, O-1, F-4, F-16, F-104, T-39, and T-33). His military decorations included the Distinguished Flying Cross, Purple Heart, 15 Air Medals, 2 Meritorious Service Medals and 2 AF Commendation Medals. He retired from the Air Force as a Colonel in 1987 and returned to Albuquerque, N.M. There he worked as a Senior Engineer for Advanced Sciences, Inc. until 1992. Afterward he began an active retirement period with included traveling to his favorite city, Paris (in France) as well as Puerto Rice, the Bahamas, Canada, Mexico, and many cities in the US to enjoy the dining, the sites and the jazz.