Air Force Col. John Catoe, 46, commander of the 88th Operational Medical Readiness Squadron, 88th Medical Group, died unexpectedly Monday while vacationing in West Virginia, Wright-Patterson Air Force Base said.
“Team Wright-Patt lost a great leader this week,” said Col. Christopher Meeker, 88th Air Base Wing and Installation commander. “John was a highly skilled professional who loved his Airmen. The collective heart of team Wright-Patt goes out to his wife Maggie and their children during this difficult time.”
News reports from West Virginia indicated the accident happened at a class-four rapid called “stairsteps” at New River Gorge National Park and Preserve.
“The 88th Medical Group family is saddened by the loss of John,” said Col. Dale Harrell, 88th Medical Group commander. “He was highly regarded for his kindness and generosity — displaying the true meaning of Air Force Wingman. John will truly be missed.”
Since May 2022, as commander of the 88th Operational Medical Readiness Squadron, Catoe led a team of more than 250 Airmen and oversaw 10 medical specialties in eight flights, ranging from aerospace operational medicine, warrior operational medicine, mental health, bioenvironmental engineering, to public health, optometry, physical medicine and health promotion, the base said.
He also served as the director of medical research, Airman Systems Directorate, and deputy chief of Airmen Biosciences Division at the 711th Human Performance Wing, also at Wright-Patterson.
A memorial service for Catoe will be held 9 a.m. Wednesday at the Wright-Patterson Club, in the base’s Area A. The service will also be streamed on the 88th Medical Group Facebook page.