By James Spellman, Jr., Space and Missile Systems Center Public Affairs
/ Published June 05, 2015
LOS ANGELES AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- A rare, but badly needed rain shower did nothing to dampen spirits as six early Air Force and civilian space pioneers were honored during a ceremony unveiling their names, newly inscribed on a wall of polished black granite at the General Bernard A. Schriever Memorial, located on the grounds of the Space and Missile Systems Center.
Hosted by the SMC History office in the Gordon Conference Center, the event was presided over by Lt. Gen. Samuel Greaves, SMC commander, with Gen. John Hyten, commander, Air Force Space Command, Peterson Air Force Base, Colo. and retired Maj. Gen. Thomas Taverney, former AFSPC vice commander attending. More than 300 attendees including family members and civic leaders from the surrounding South Bay beach cities honored the six inductees: Col. Clarence L. Battle, Jr., Maj. Gen. Ben I. Funk, Col. Thomas O. Haig, Col. Edward N. Hall, Mr. Joseph J. Knopow and Lt. Gen. Charles H. Terhune, Jr.
Two special guests were also in attendance: 94-year-old retired Col. Haig, one of the honorees and Maj. Michael Schriever, grandson of General Schriever whose memorial bears his name. Maj. Schriever is currently chief of the National Reconnaissance Office headquarters Weapons and Tactics and deputy chief of NRO Special Technical Operations.
Coming from various backgrounds and fields of expertise, the six latest inductees share a common heritage representing early Air Force space and missile development:
* Col. Lee Battle worked on propulsion projects at Air Force headquarters and the Air Force Flight Test Center at Edwards Air Force Base during the early 1950s. He transferred to the Western Development Division soon after its creation in 1954, becoming the chief of systems engineering for the Advanced Reconnaissance System, which soon became known by the unclassified name Discoverer and the CIA's classified designation, Corona.
Discoverer/Corona was not only the first Air Force satellite program, it was also the world's first satellite designed to perform a military mission. Col. Battle directed the Discoverer/Corona program during its critical early period through its eventual success in film recovery from orbit beginning in 1960 with Discoverer 14, after which it was managed by the National Reconnaissance Office.
The lessons in management that he learned through a dozen early launch and payload failures leading to the first successful launch, on-orbit operations, and payload recovery were summarized in Battle's Laws. In them, he laid out the fundamental principles for direction of successful space programs, emphasizing a streamlined approach with simple clarity. Battle's Laws are still well known among acquisition managers as a distillation of practical wisdom for achieving program success.
* Maj. Gen. Ben Funk oversaw General Schriever's logistics, materiel, and acquisition functions, improving activities vital to the success of SMC's predecessors. General Schriever personally selected General Funk to be the commander of Space Systems Division, overseeing many pioneering space programs where he was known especially for his support of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration's Mercury and Gemini programs.
General Funk was responsible for man-rating the Atlas missile for the Mercury program and the Titan II missile and Agena target vehicle for the Gemini program. Three-fourths of the hardware used in NASA's first two manned space programs were developed and launched under General Funk's management.
Gen Funk also oversaw the development of the Titan III launch vehicle, which provided an enormous increase in launch capacity for the nation's military and civil space programs. He oversaw the beginning of many vital satellite programs, including the initial Defense Communications Satellite program. Los Angeles Air Force Base, headquarters for SMC and its predecessors since 1964, was acquired, remodeled, and occupied during his management as well.
* Working on balloon reconnaissance programs in the early 1950s, Col. Thomas Haig managed requirements for satellite ground support at the Air Force Ballistic Missile Division until 1961, developing tracking and control stations for early surveillance programs. When the National Reconnaissance Office established a meteorological satellite program in 1961 to provide information on cloud cover over the Soviet Union for its Corona photographic reconnaissance satellites, Haig was selected to create and manage the Defense Meteorological Satellite Program for the NRO.
When DMSP was transferred to Space Systems Division in the early 1960s, Haig served as its director until 1966, managing it through four satellite block changes. DMSP was used immediately for military operations with the first satellite providing weather information for reconnaissance missions during the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962. Block I satellites also supported air operations in the Congo in 1964. By the end of Haig's tenure, DMSP data was supporting tactical military operations in Vietnam.
* Widely recognized in the field of early missiles during World War II, Col. Edward Hall performed pioneering work on the development of propulsion for all first-generation Air Force strategic missiles. He managed the entire Thor intermediate-range ballistic missile development program through its deployment in England.
Col. Hall personally obtained the required Pentagon support to develop a proposed new solid propellant intercontinental ballistic missile, managing the Minuteman I ICBM development program at the Western Development Division, SMC's first organizational ancestor and the Air Force Ballistic Missile Division from the early development of solid-fuel propulsion through early Minuteman flight testing in 1959.
* The father of space-based infrared detection technology, Mr. Joe Knopow was in charge of the Missile Division of Lockheed Aircraft Corporation's development of MIDAS, the world's first missile detection satellite program, during 1955-1962. Like the early Corona program, MIDAS experienced many launch and early on-orbit failures before achieving its first spectacular surveillance successes.
Mr. Knopow tirelessly planned, guided, and advocated for the program through its early difficulties. The original concepts that he developed for MIDAS are familiar and valuable infrared detection techniques are still in use today.
* Lt. Gen. Charles Terhune worked on the development of missiles and nuclear warheads for the Office of the Secretary of Defense and the Air Force Special Weapons Center. As a colonel, Terhune was one of the original 18 military personnel, known as the "Schoolhouse Gang" who arrived at a schoolhouse in Inglewood serving as the Western Development Division's temporary headquarters in August 1954 to set up the development program for the Atlas intercontinental ballistic missile.
Serving as General Schriever's technical assistant, deputy for ballistic missiles, and then vice commander over a six-year period, General Terhune played a vital role in the formulation and implementation of the management concepts which brought the first generation of Air Force intermediate-range and intercontinental ballistic missiles to operational status through the combined efforts of a vast government-science-industry team. He was a key figure in the development of early space programs, including the Advanced Reconnaissance System and the Pioneer lunar missions.
"To the family members of these individuals, the world is a vastly different place for the better because of their legacy that we continue to benefit from today," said Hyten. "We owe these leaders a great debt of gratitude, a debt we can only repay by living up to the examples they set for us."
With support from industry partners, the Air Force Association's Schriever chapter sponsored and commissioned a statue of General Schriever, architect of the Air Force's ballistic missile and military space program, in November 2007. The 60th anniversary of SMC in 2014 was chosen as the initial occasion to recognize some of the earliest space pioneers who made tremendous contributions in their field. Additional pioneers are chosen each year to have their names added to the Schriever Wall of Honor.