Header image  
Capt. William B. Ecker  
line decor
line decor


In his memory:

Capt. William B. Ecker, USN Ret.
Commanding Officer VFP-62 Sept. 12, 1962 - Sept. 5, 1963

Updated: August 31, 2018

[Webmaster's Note: This page is under construction and will be updated as tributes from family, friends, and former Navy members are received. Contact Webmaster on the link below.]

Celebrating VFP-62's Navy Unit Commendation for Cuban Missile Crisis

    Captain William Boyce Ecker joined the Navy on 29 October 1942. He finished flight training in April 1944 and was commissioned as an Ensign, U.S. Naval Reserve. In late 1944, Ensign Ecker joined VF-10 embarked in INTREPID (CV-11) for combat in the Pacific Theater. He left the squadron in November 1945 when he was promoted to Lieutenant (junior grade).

    In 1946 and 1947, he was attached to VF-74 aboard the USS MIDWAY (CVA-41). In 1947, he was also commissioned into the regular Navy. He attended Stanford University from 1947 to 1949 and married Miss Kathryn Daley of Boston in December 1947 while at Stanford. In June 1949, he was assigned to VF-62 embarked in the ROOSEVELT (CVA-42) and remained with the squadron and Air Group Six (as Landing Signal Officer) until 1952, at which time he reported to General Line School at the U.S. Naval Postgraduate School, Monterey, California. A tour in the training command as a flight instructor lasted until 1954, and was followed by a course of instruction in photography and jet reconnaissance at the Naval Air Technical Training Unit, Pensacola, Florida.

    After NATTU, Lieutenant Commander Ecker became the First Lieutenant of the USS MIDWAY (CVA-41) and later became the First Lieutenant of the USS FORRESTAL (CVA-59) until 1956. From the FORRESTAL, he was assigned to VA-36 (and to Air Task Group 201) at the Naval Air Station, Cecil Field, and finished this two-year tour as the Executive Officer of VF-174.

    Washington D.C. duty in Research & Development at the Bureau of Aeronautics and Bureau of Naval Weapons followed from 1958 to 1961. Commander Ecker then received orders as Commanding Officer of VFP-62 in 1962, and as the Commanding Officer he led the first low-level reconnaissance flight over Cuba thus providing the United States with positive proof of the Russian offensive build-up. For this and subsequent flights, he and his Squadron were decorated personally by President John F. Kennedy.

    Following VFP-62, Captain Ecker became the Head of Naval Photography and Reconnaissance in the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations until he was ordered to the Naval War College in 1966. While at the Naval War College, he received his Master of Science degree and after language training, he reported to the Military Assistance Advisory Group, Denmark, as Chief, Navy Section.

    He commanded the Naval Air Technical Training Unit, which included the Naval Schools of Photography, for one year before being ordered to report to the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations in September 1971. From there, he retired in 1974.

    Click to see: Capt. Ecker's Distinguished Flying Cross Letter

    Memories and Tributes

  • Please send my condolences to David and the rest of the Ecker family. I was the plane captain who preflighted and helped launch Capt. Ecker and his wingman, Lt. Bruce Wilhelmy over Cuba during the crisis...Richard Flake, CPO, USN, Retired

  • Ken: I was saddened to hear of the passing of Captain Ecker. When you told me earlier about the book and memoir the thought crossed my mind about Captain Ecker?s age and health for the project. From the start of the web site [vfp62.com] concept it was my thought that there was a lot more to the story of the CMC and the recognition of the role of the pilots and VFP-62 as a squadron. Captain Ecker must have felt this also and wanted to preserve and communicate the history when he wrote the memoir 25 years ago. I am sure he is resting in peace with the knowledge he became involved with a very able man like Ken Jack to communicate the full story and help preserve the history for lessons to our future generation...Pete Wallace [co-sponsor of vfp62.com]

  • I, also, am saddened by the news of Capt. Ecker's death. I, at the same time, am VERY excited re: his memoirs and the memories for the most memorable time in my life and possibly my only mark, however small, on History...I am looking forward to the book, when it gets published, I don't care what the cost is...But even having more barracks duty, than a sailor should have to do. I still LOVED VFP-62 and will never forget all of my shipmates and most officers I came in contact with during the most loved time in the Navy with VFP-62 and the USS Forrestal - CVA-59 and the CMC...Terry Stull, Aviation Store Keeper

  • Click to enlarge

    Capt. Ecker receiving the Navy Unit Commendation for VFP-62 from President Kennedy

    Full book jacket (click above image to enlarge--use browser "back arrow" to return)

    "Blue Moon Over Cuba:
    Aerial Reconnaissance during the Cuban Missile Crisis"

    VFP-62 Squadron Members,

    I am very sad to report that our Squadron Commanding Officer during the Cuban missile crisis (CMC), Capt. William B. Ecker has died. The following was received from his son David:

    • He was taken to the Emergency Room on October 14. My Mom called me and asked me to come to Florida, so I stopped my service with FEMA (in Washington DC) and flew to Florida on the 15th. My Dad was in the Intensive Care Unit until October 23. Then, he was in a regular Hospital Room until October 30. He then came home on October 30th. It looked like he was recovering from his Pneumonia; however, he suffered a relapse on November 5th and died at the Emergency Room.

    In 2009, I was shocked and excited to learn from David Ecker that his dad had written a memoir of VFP-62's key role in providing low-level photography of the Russian nuclear missile sites under construction in Cuba. After a U-2 high-altitude reconnaissance plane had identified offensive missiles being installed in Cuba, the Secretary of Defense, CIA, and Chief of Naval Operations determined that higher resolution photographic intelligence was needed to assess and deal with the crisis. It was determined that the Navy's Light Photographic Squadron 62, flying the supersonic RF-8A photo Crusader, had the best capabilities to offer. The CNO authorized operation "Blue Moon", which ordered (then) Commander Ecker to prepare his squadron for the dangerous low-level missions. He had been CO for about five weeks. Eventually, over 160,000 negatives would be produced and sent to Washington or analysis.

    This story and how it evolved was captured in detail by Capt. Ecker twenty five years ago, never published, and distributed only to close friends and family. David Ecker, on behalf of his father, wanted to update the manuscript to include more of the squadron and how VFP-62 and VMCJ-2 Marine pilots were awarded twelve Distinguished Flying Crosses and the squadron given the Navy Unit Commendation, presented by President Kennedy--the first ever presented by a President in peace time.

    David Ecker and I made a three-month effort to find a suitable co-author to fulfill his Dad's wishes without success. I offered, and the Ecker's accepted, my being the co-author. Many of the chapters have been enlarged and enhanced and the evidence mounts as to how the competence of our squadron helped Washington decision makers chart a course away from general nuclear war. Prior to his death, Capt Ecker reviewed, consulted, and approved my drafts of chapters. After three-years, we published the book on August 21, 2012 in time for the fiftieth anniversary of the Cuban Missile Crisis. Now, it will be a memorial to Capt Ecker and those who have preceded him in death, as well as a tribute to all who served in VFP-62. For more information go to our "Cuban Missile Crisis" page.

    Ken Jack, former PH2 VFP-62 1960-63
    Webmaster vfp62.com

See additional information on Capt. Ecker this site:


    Thank you for visiting our site.

    Please Recommend Us To Your Friends

    Email the Webmaster

    We invite you to click this link - VFP-62 Webmaster to email a question, comment, correction, or contribution to this page.

    Updated 3/9/18



vfp62 patch

navy patch