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Tigers: Tracking a Legend
Willis M. Hawkins
Willis M. Hawkins was born December 1, 1913 in Kansas City, Missouri. During his long career, he played a major role in design and development of airplanes, missile systems and space vehicles and had managerial responsibility for extensive space and aircraft programs.
Graduating in 1937 with a B.S. in Aeronautical Engineering from the University of Michigan, Hawkins began a career at the Lockheed Corporation spanning over 50 years. Hired as a senior detail engineering draftsman in Lockheed's engineering department in Burbank, California, he advanced through a number of key engineering positions.
In the late 1940s Hawkins organized a ram jet test vehicles development group from which the Lockheed Missiles and Space Company was launched. Serving as Director of Engineering of that division from 1953 to 1957, he played a prominent role in early missile development and was appointed Assistant General Manger in 1959. Famous among the programs for which he was responsible was the Navy's Polaris and the Air Force satellite systems, including the Agenda space vehicle. He was elected a vice president of Lockheed Corporation in 1960.
Hawkins served as Assistant Secretary of the Army for Research and Development for nearly three years beginning in 1963 before resuming his duties as Vice President-Science and Engineering. He then advanced to Senior Vice-President of Science and Engineering in 1969, served as a member of the Board of Directors from 1972 through May, 1980, and after taking an early retirement in 1974, assumed the duties of Senior Vice President of the corporation and as President of the Lockheed-California Co. form late 1976 until April, 1979.
Willis Hawkins received an honorary doctor of engineering degree from the University of Michigan in 1963, and an honorary doctor of science degree from Illinois College in 1966. He received the U.S. Navy Distinguished Public Service Medal in 1961, Distinguished Civilian Service Awards in 1965 and 1966 for his contributions to the Army's research and development programs and his direction of the U.S./German main battle tank development, and was awarded the National Medal of Science by President Reagan in 1988.
Willis M. Hawkins was enshrined into the Michigan Aviation Hall of Fame on October 22, 1994 in recognition of his valuable contributions, both technical and managerial, to the