|Tulane alumnus honored by U.S. Airforce|
Alumnus Col. Albert Wetzel was recently inducted into the Air Force Hall of Fame for his work in
America's missile programs.
Courtesy Of Col. Wetzel
January 30, 2004-- Vice President Emeritus of the Tulane School of Engineering Col. Albert J. "Red
Wetzel recently received the 2003 Air Force Space and Missile Pioneers Award and an induction into
the Air Force Hall of Fame.
His contributions to the development and management of the Titan Intercontinental Ballistic Missile
and Space Launch Program led to his recognition last July.
Wetzel, a New Orleans native, received his bachelor's degree in electrical engineering from Tulane
University in 1939.
Wetzel recalls his experiences at Tulane favorably. "There's a lot of difference between college and
the real world, but Tulane prepared me as well as I could have been prepared," Wetzel said. "There
were wonderful leaders on campus at that time and they had great influence on me; the professors
were really impressive."
Subsequently, Wetzel served as a test pilot for the Air Corps Research and Development Center and
also served as chief project engineer for Matador, which was the Air Force's first ground-launched
Wetzel continued his education at Johns Hopkins University, where he earned a master's degree in
aeronautical and astronautical engineering in 1950.
Upon graduation, Wetzel was appointed director of the Atomic Program for Guided Missiles for the
Army, Navy and Air Force for the Secretary of Defense in Washington, D.C. This led to his next
appointment, technical executive to the assistant to the president, then Harry Truman, and director of
Guided Missiles, also in the office of the secretary of defense.
He served as the director of the Titan Intercontinental Ballistic Missile Program from 1958 until 1961.
During this period, Wetzel transformed this program from a concept into an actual operation. His
leadership during his tenure as director helped advance the missile program due to progress made in
the guidance system, fuel technology and use of underground launch silos for global missile reach.
Upon retirement in 1965, Wetzel returned to Tulane where he became director of Research and
Sponsored Programs and director of University Development. He was later appointed to other
positions including president for Alumni and University Affairs, assistant to the president and is
currently vice president emeritus.
The United States Air Force and the National Space Club unofficially initiated the Air Force Space
and Missile Pioneers Award in 1989. The award was later formalized into an official Air Force award
in 1997 in recognition of the 50th anniversary of the Air Force and the 15th anniversary of the Air
Force Space Command.
While this award recognized those who play a significant role in the space and missile program, such
as Wetzel, it also seeks to educate current Air Force personnel about such figures and increase
further interest in the Air Force space and missile program.
Increasing awareness about the actions of those in these programs is important to Wetzel. "It takes a
lot of courage and imagination on the part of people who make these amazing discoveries, but it
benefits everybody and it's going to be interesting and wonderful to see what evolves from current
research," he said. "These programs have made significant progress in health, communication and
transportation, but people often do not see it even though it affects their own lives."
About receiving this prestigious award, Wetzel said, "I am most appreciative and very humble about
the whole thing. It is wonderful to be in the company of all the people in the Hall of Fame. Those were
very important years in my life and it was a difficult time for the whole country."
Wetzel received a trophy inscribed with his name and year presented as well as his portrait in the Air
Force Space and Missile Pioneers Hall of Fame.
Engineering Dean Nicholas Altiero expressed pleasure with Wetzel's recent success. "The School of
Engineering is extremely proud to have alumni of the stature of Al Wetzel. His pioneering work helped
make our country the world's leader in space exploration," Altiero said.
Col. Albert J. Wetzel, Sr. (E'39) 50 YEAR REUNION COMMITTEE 2003 - 2004 Chairman - Pictured with his wife, Helen Zurad Wetzel (N'76) at the 1999 Presidents Reunion Reception
|Albert J. Wetzel|
http://www.smom.org/files/annual-report-2005.pdf (page 18) (Proof Positive)