Bernard A. Schriever was the USAF's missile chief during the development of the intercontinental ballistic missile. Born in Germany in 1910, he came to the US at the age of 6 and settled with his family in New Braunfels, Texas. Schriever graduated from Texas A&M University in 1931 with a BS in engineering and accepted a reserve commission in the Field Artillery. Entering flight training in July 1932, he earned his wings and commission in the Air Corps Reserve in June 1933. During the Air Corps' lean years in the 1930s, Lieutenant Schriever gained experience in many fields.
He flew B-3 Keystone bombers, ferried the mails, served as an aide to General George H. Brett in Panama, worked as a copilot for Northwest Airlines, and ran a Civilian Conservation Corps' camp in New Mexico. He reentered active service in 1938. Due to his flying experience and engineering background, Schriever was sent to Wright Field as a test pilot where he flew anything that came along. He attended the Air Corps Engineering School, specializing in aeronautical engineering, before attending Stanford University and graduating with an MS in mechanical engineering. In July 1942, Schriever joined the 19th Bomb Group and flew 63 missions against targets in the Solomons, New Guinea, Philippines, and the Ryukyus.
After the war, he served in numerous command, staff, and scientific liaison positions in the research and development field until his selection for National War College in August 1949. Schriever remained in Washington in research and development at the Pentagon. Recognized as a "visionary enthusiast" in the developing missile business, General Schriever assumed command of the Air Force Western Development Division of Air Research and Development Command (ARDC) in 1954. He directed the nation's highest priority projects: The development of a ballistic missile program and development of the Air Force's initial space programs.
He not only pushed forward research and development on the Atlas, Titan, Thor, and Minuteman ballistic missiles; but also concurrently provided the launching sites, tracking facilities, and ground support equipment. He earned the title of "Missileman Schriever" when he appeared on the cover of TIME magazine in 1957. In April 1959, he became ARDC Commander and was promoted to lieutenant general. When ARDC became Air Force Systems Command in 1961, he was promoted to general. He retired in 1966 and works as an engineering and military strategy consultant. He was inducted into the Aviation Hall of Fame in 1980 and recently served on the President's Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board.
In 1953, ARDC needed a "missile-minded" man to develop ICBMs. "Actually, we didn't appoint him--'Benny' was born for the job," a Pentagon general said. "There wasn't another soul we knew who could handle it, .so 'Benny' walked in and took over." On 4 March 1957, General Schriever stated, "Several decades from now, the important battles may not be sea battles but space battles.and we should be spending a certain fraction of our national resources to ensure that we do not lag in obtaining space supremacy.The mission is to maintain the peace."