The 22-year-old U.S Navy lieutenant was stationed there from 1967 into 1968 — and just for fun started hitting tennis balls using a wall as a backstop.
“There was not much to do,” he said.
His rudimentary gamesmanship caused more than a ripple of interest on base — specifically from his captain.
“He asked me to have lunch and then play tennis,” he recalled. “Then he asked me to be his partner.”
Catlett said he only had been playing a few days at that point, but “I was young and fast.”
From that initial meeting, Catlett said he and the captain played well on the island.
“I think no one wanted to beat the captain,” he said with a grin.