Clayton D. Boyce
Clayton (Clay) D. Boyce was born and grew up near the mountain town of St. Maries in northern Idaho. His parents were of modest means; he attended the local schools and graduated from high school in 1947. By working after school and vacations he pursued his hobby of model airplanes and earned a student pilot’s license at the local wheat field/airport.
In 1948, he enrolled at the University of Idaho and graduated with a bachelor's in mechanical engineering in 1953. While in school he participated in the AFROTC Program and was commissioned as a second lieutenant after graduation. His first job as an engineer was with Cessna Aircraft in Wichita, Kan., where he worked as a design engineer on the USAF T-37 jet trainer program.
Boyce was called to active duty by the U.S. Air Force in late 1953 and assigned to Patrick AFB, Fla. (Atlantic Missile Range/Cape Canaveral). He served as a guidance systems officer in the 1st Pilotless Bomber (Matador) Squadron first-of-a-kind for the Air Force. The Matador carried a 40 kiloton nuclear warhead and in 1954, the squadron was deployed to Germany as part of the Cold War/NATO arms buildup in Europe. Subsequently, he was assigned to the USAF Active Reserve and currently holds a commission as captain in the USAF Retired Reserve.
When released from active duty in 1955, he accepted employment with Aerojet Engineering Company (later Aerojet-General Corp). He remained employed by Aerojet for 36 years until retirement in 1991. While at Aerojet he held various positions in engineering and management. The highlight of his career was participation in mankind’s greatest adventure, the Apollo Moon Program. In 1962, NASA/NAA awarded Aerojet the contract to develop and qualify the Apollo Service Module Main Engine-the first rocket engine with the goal of putting men in orbit around the moon and then bring them home again. Boyce was assigned as the engineering manager for this rocket program and every engineering discipline learned from University of Idaho provided him the competence and confidence to successfully resolve the myriad of technical challenges that he encountered.
In 1969, prior to Neil Armstrong’s historic Apollo 11 mission to the Moon, NASA requested his relocation to the Manned Space Center (later the Johnson Space Center) in Houston, Texas, for on-site technical support of the mission. He was honored to sit in the Apollo Mission Control Center during all the Apollo moon landings.
He enjoyed other exciting assignments worldwide by providing technical and marketing support to Aeroject’s customers in Japan, Korea, Taiwan, Philippines, Hong Kong, Thailand and Singapore. His final assignment for Aerojet was with USAF Wright Patterson AFB, Ohio where he provided on-site technical support for Aerojet’ s Scramjet Propulsion Contracts related to The National Aerospace Plane Program-better known as President Reagan’s Hypersonic Orient Express.
Prior to retirement in 1991, Boyce created Clay & Associates, a company that provided technical consulting activities to the Aerospace Industry. Clients included Aerojet, USAF, Johnson Space Center, Stennis Space Center, American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, Johns Hopkins University/Chemical Propulsion Information Analysis Center, Aerospace Corporation and the Joint Army Navy NASA Air Force Propulsion Technology Conference.
Boyce and Carol, his wife, currently reside in Gold River, Calif., and have three children. Dianne Boyce ’70, Boyce’s daughter, and William Boyce ’84, son, are both University of Idaho graduates. Terri Wyels, Carol’s daughter, graduated from USC. They have four grandchildren — Cassandra Boyce, Brad Boyce, Kenda Wyels and Kyler Wyels. Since retirement, they have enjoyed extensive world travel with a goal to stand on all the continents. Only Antarctica remains to be achieved!