In Memoriam
  Dr. Walter B. LaBerge
  Dr. Walter B. LaBerge    (March 29 , 1924 - July 16, 2004)








Medals Received


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 technology.

National Academy of Engineering
Memorial Tributes

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

A Few Quotes:

On 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

"I was one of 5,000 people who single-handedly built the Sidewinder"  Walt LaBerge

"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."  Comments by James Satterfield on the first quarterly progress report given in August, 1963.

"One of the great friends of the U.S. Army Band"  Col. Eugene W. Allen, Leader & Commander of "Pershing's Own."

"A giant in defense planning, engineering and analysis."  Campus News - Naval Postgraduate School

"Life was always about pursuing ideas and inventions for LaBerge"  The Daily Independent

"Walt was a true Renaissance Man"  Dr. Harry Fair,  University of Texas, Institute For Advanced Technology.



The 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 China Lake."

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 children 


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 fastest air-breathing 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

Walt about to fly in a Spad VII at 125 mph, 140 hp.  Flown during WWI, it was produced by the French Société Pour L'Aviation et ses Dérivés.

Wright Military Flyer Number 1, 40 mph,
35 hp.


To: Hon. Walt LaBerge

Orville Wright test flying the Wright Brothers "flier" that became U.S. Military aircraft number one.  Fort Myer, Virginia 1908 - 1909

Tom McKnew (V.P. National Geographic Soc.)
I was there

Fledgling Wings of the Air Force


  Contact Me

This web site was created

by Philip LaBerge



  Copyright © 2003 [Philip C. LaBerge]. All rights reserved