Space and Missile Pioneer Dies

Retired Col. Albert J. “Red” Wetzel, who led the Titan missile program, died Dec. 26 in New Orleans at age 91. Wetzel entered pilot training in 1942, flying a number of aircraft, including the B-47 in Strategic Air Command. He also served as chief project officer for USAF’s first ground-launched cruise missile, the Matador, and, while leading the Titan program, helped develop procedures for ballistic missile launch from hardened, underground silos and for launch of the manned Gemini spacecraft. As executive assistant to the commander of the Ballistic Systems Division, he established a scientific advisory group. Before retiring from USAF in 1965, he served as director of Strategic Programs with the Undersecretary of Defense for Research and Engineering. A Times-Picayune obituary notes that he served 25 years in executive positions at Tulane University. He was inducted into the Space and Missile Pioneers Hall of Fame in 2003. (Air Force Space Command release)