On April 23 at “The Cary” in Cary, one of Bladen County’s native sons, Luin B. Ricks, was posthumously among those honored with a documentary titled “The Satellite Men.”
The film showed a select and hand-picked group of Air Force officers who worked under top secret clearance in the early 1950s to develop, within 10 months, a classified weather satellite. It was so secret then that the men wore civilian clothes to work, and also worked in a trailer outside the main offices of the Space and Missile Systems Organization in Los Angeles.
They produced the satellite within the requisite 10 months and a model of it titled “DMSP Block I,” or Program 417, will be on exhibit in the Air and Space Museum of the Smithsonian in Washington, D.C., by sometime this summer.
Luin was one of the pivotal aerospace engineers who made this happen, according to his boss, Col. Thomas O. Haig, who at 92 years old came all the way from Madison, Wisc., to attend the premiere showing of the documentary.
The evening was truly an auspicious event for the Ricks family. In attendance were Barbara Melvin Ricks, Shari Ricks, Eric Ricks, Paul Layton, Jonathan Layton and Jason Layton.
As some of you may remember, Luin graduated from Elizabethtown High School in 1947, from the United States Naval Academy at Annapolis, Md., in 1954, and received his master’s degree in aeronautical engineering from the Air Force Institute of Technology in Dayton, Ohio, in 1961.
He died in 1978 in San Jose, Calif., at which time he was director for Communications Satellite Corp. in charge of their offices in El Segundo, Calif.; and Palo Alto, Calif.; Cannes, France; and Munich, Germany.
Luin was the son of Inez Cole Layton Ricks and Leon D. Ricks Sr., and is buried in the Elizabethtown City CemeteryL
Barbara Melvin Ricks