Capt. Williard "Don" Dietz


Updated October 27, 2010
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Captain Dietz was commanding officer of VFP-62's predecessor squadron VC-62 (March 12, 1954 to November 29, 1955.

During the Cuban Missile Crisis of October 1962, VFP-62 had an edge over other photo reconnaissance squadrons. The following account from Dino Brugioni's "Eyeball To Eyeball: The Inside Story of the Cuban Missile Crisis," details Captain Dietz's contribution:

The feasibility of low-altitude reconnaissance missions also was discussed [between Secretary of Defence Robert McNamara and his advisers]. Questions arose as to which organization should fly them and what numbers of low-altitude missions would be required. Lundahl [Director of the CIA's National Photographic Interpretation Center] was consulted by [General] Carter and recommended that the U.S. Navy had the best low-altitude capabilities. The Center maintained close liaison with the various service reconnaissance-technical squadrons and was well versed in the capabilities of the various aircraft, camera systems, and photo-intelligence officers.

The Navy had devoted considerable time and effort to develop an effective low-altitude jet reconnaissance capability. Commander (later Captain) Willard D. Dietz had perceived and pushed for the development of small-format aerial cameras (70mm and 5 inches) to replace the Navy's bulky (9 x 9 x 18 inch) K-17 and K-38 cameras used in World War II and Korea. His purpose was to reduce the external size of the camera systems so that ongoing fighter aircraft designs could accommodate a viable camera suite without major airframe alterations. His foresight would pay off during the crisis. Dietz worked with the best research-and-development personnel of the Navy, and these men collaborated closely not only with the camera manufacturers and research laboratories but also with the reconnaissance units and the fleet. Their efforts had resulted in the development of the Chicago Aerial Industries, Inc.'s KA-45 and the KA-46, six-inch-focal-length framing cameras.


Captain Dietz was Director of Naval Photography in the Pentagon shortly before going on to command the Naval Photographic Interpretation Center (NPIC), Suitland MD.


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Created on ... October 27, 2010