Dr. Walter B. LaBerge (March 29
, 1924 - July 16, 2004)
American Theater WWII
Pacific Theater WWII
US Army Distinguished Service
US Air Force Distinguished Service
US Navy Superior Civilian Service
Department Of Defense Distinguished Service
National Academy of Engineering
This web site is
dedicated to the memory of Dr. Walter B. LaBerge.
Born in Maywood, Illinois in 1924, Walter was the skipper of a
minesweeper in WWII, a co-inventor of the Sidewinder missile,
and led the team that built NASA Mission Control Center. He held senior positions with
NATO, The Department of Defense, and Lockheed. In
semi-retirement, he was a senior scientist on the
electromagnetic rail gun project at the University of Texas,
Austin and was a visiting professor at the Naval Post Graduate
School in Monterey, CA. Walter passed away at the age of
80 in Aptos, CA.
The Walter B. LaBerge
Distinguished Leadership Award is named in honor of the late
Walter Barber LaBerge, pioneering aerospace research scientist
and esteemed public servant whose wisdom, inspiration, and
selfless service were integral to our national Defense and Space
programs. Ever an astute leader, Dr. LaBerge not only
shepherded the essential programs of his day, he nurtured the
seeds of future scientific and technical military advances.
As chief scientist at the Institute for Advanced Technology, his
leadership of research at the frontiers of knowledge and his
enthusiastic mentorship of young scientists and engineers
propelled the Institute to international leadership in
electromagnetic launch and hypervelocity physics science and
Academy of Engineering
Walter B. LaBerge Elected in 1987
"For outstanding engineering,
contributions to the national security through technical
leadership in industry and in extensive public service."
NAE Tribute to WBL.pdf
Sidewinder, LaBerge saw his role as finding out who really
wanted to do something and to get him doing it. He was
also a superb technical salesman."
from Sidewinder by Ron Westrum
one of 5,000 people who single-handedly built the Sidewinder"
"Without a doubt,
Philco's performance on this contract (building Houston
Mission Control Center) was largely due to LaBerge's ability
as a technical administrator."
James Satterfield on the first quarterly progress report
given in August, 1963.
the great friends of the U.S. Army Band"
Col. Eugene W. Allen, Leader & Commander of "Pershing's Own."
in defense planning, engineering and analysis."
Campus News - Naval Postgraduate School
was always about pursuing ideas and inventions for LaBerge"
The Daily Independent
was a true Renaissance Man" Dr. Harry
Fair, University of Texas, Institute For Advanced
Sidewinder missile is the most widely used air-to-air
missile in the West, with more than 110,000 missiles produced
for 27 nations excluding the United States. The AIM-9 is one of
the oldest, least expensive and most successful missiles in the
entire U.S. weapons inventory.
At the 50th
anniversary of the Navy at China Lake,
Dr. James Colvard elegantly spoke the following:
50 years from now when they
interview the archetypical public servant who embodies that
combination of competence, commitment, courage, integrity, and
imagination, about which we spoke and they ask him or her "How
did you achieve this stature?", he or she will say,
"I worked at
That is exactly what Walt
LaBerge would have replied had he been asked.
Excerpts of Interviews with Dr.
Walter B. LaBerge
taken from "Secret City - A History of the Navy
at China Lake."
Memoirs For My
Children is a fascinating 365 page hard bound biography
written by Dr. Walter LaBerge with invited commentary by his
To: Walt LaBerge
Thank you for the great job setting
up MCC-HOU (Mission Control Center -
Houston.) It provided great
support for Gemini IV.
Edward H. White II
3 June '65
Walt after flying in an F-16
armed with a
Sidewinder. As Assistant Secretary of the
Air Force, Walt played an important role in
getting Congress to approve funding for
the F-16 and other aircraft.
Walt after flying in the SR-71 Blackbird at Mach
3 at over 80,000 Ft. 2,200 mph, 160,000 hp. The
manned plane on earth.
Lockheed F-117 Nighthawk stealth strike aircraft.
"To Walt, Best Regards, Ben R. Rich"
Ben R. Rich was the Director of Lockheed's
Skunk Works from 1975 to 1991 and is
regarded at the father of stealth. Walt
served as corporate vice president of the
Lockheed Missile and Space Company in
Sunnyvale, CA from 1981 to 1985, and then
Lockheed's Vice President of Advanced
Planning at Calabasas, CA from 1985 to