Frederick Rounsville "Fritz" Payne, Jr. was born on 31 July 1911 at Elmira, New York. He attended Culver Military Academy in Indiana before entering the U.S. Naval Academy in July 1930. Resigning from the Academy in 1932, he completed his college education at the University of Arizona in January 1935. Upon graduation, he resigned his Army R.O.T.C. commission and entered the Marine Corps aviation cadet program that July.
Ordered to flight training at Pensacola, Payne was commissioned a second lieutenant in July 1936 and designated a Naval Aviator in September. The next month he reported to Quantico, Virginia to begin squadron flying assignments. Initially assigned to VMF-2 in October 1940, he was transferred to VMF-221 in July 1941, and embarked for Midway on 8 December following the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.
Major Payne entered combat at Guadalcanal in September 1942 on detached duty with VMF-223. His first victory was a half-share in a Japanese twin-engine bomber on 14 September followed by a solo victory two weeks later. When his own squadron, VMF-212, arrived in October, Payne quickly added for more victories: two bombers and a pair of Zekes between 18 and 23 October to become a Wildcat ace. He left Guadalcanal on 27 October and subsequently served as commander of VMF-212 from November 1942 to February 1943 and later commanded Marine Air Group 23.
Following World War II, Colonel Payne remained in aviation assignments. a variety of duties followed including 1st Marine Air Wing in Korea, helicopter unit command and responsibility for planning and control of land and air elements in atomic weapons tests during 1957. He retired from active duty with the rank of brigadier general on 1 August 1958.
TALLY RECORD: 5 1/2 Confirmed
DECORATIONS: Navy Cross, Silver Star, Legion of Merit with Combat "V", Distinguished Flying Cross, Air Medal with 4 Gold Stars