WOODROW WILSON HIGH SCHOOL Alumni
GARY SEVERSON 1961
US AIR FORCE
Gary Severson graduated from Wilson in 1961. He served in the US Air Force from 1967 to 1971. He was a captain in Systems Command, stationed at an AFPRO (Air Force Plant Representative Office) at Rocketdyne Inc. in Canoga Park, CA, then a division of North American Rockwell. Rocketdyne made liquid rocket engines. The Air Force had the principal government contract management responsibility there because Rocketdyne had built the engines for the Atlas and Thor intercontinental ballistic missiles, which were Air Force birds. When Gary arrived there in January 1968, after earning his commission the month before at Officer Training School, Lackland AFB, TX, 99 percent of Rocketdyne's production was building the engines for the Saturn launch vehicle for the NASA Apollo Project. Five Rocketdyne F-1 engines (1.5 million pounds of thrust each) powered the first stage of the Saturn; five Rocketdyne J-2 engines (250 thousand pounds of thrust each) were in the second stage; and one re-ignitable J-2 in the third stage got astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin to the moon and back in July 1969. Gary says, "My time at Rocketdyne was a very valuable business experience for me and served me well in my civilian career."