telemetry, signals intelligence, and the cable television business.
In 1962 he left this thriving company and moved his family to Washington, D.C., where he became a deputy to Dr. Harold Brown in the Pentagon Directorate of Defense, Research, and Engineering. As John explained to other youthful executives in the Young Presidents Organization, “I believe that a man has an obligation to serve his country through government service if he has that combination of background, education, and personal characteristics which will enable him to be effective.” In his Pentagon position, John was responsible for initiating and overseeing many important R&D programs. He and I spent many hours during this period discussing and debating intricate technical issues.
John’s next adventure in public service came in 1964, when he went to Paris as NATO’s assistant secretary-general for scientific affairs. Two years later he returned to the states to become president of the MITRE Corporation, a Massachusetts-based federal contract research center specializing in communications, command, control, and air defense systems. Under John’s leadership, the company provided critical technical support to air operations in southeast Asia and diversified into civilian fields where its systems engineering expertise could be beneficial.
In 1969 John once again answered his country’s call, returning to the Pentagon as undersecretary of the Air Force with a covert collateral duty as director of the then totally secret National Reconnaissance Office (NRO). He and Secretary Robert C. Seamans formed a close partnership in leading the Air Force through the last four years of the Vietnam War. In his NRO position, John managed replacement of the Corona reconnaissance satellite and development of a new electro- optical system that would soon revolutionize our nation’s intelligence capabilities.
After Bob Seamans’s departure in 1973 (to become president of the National Academy of Engineering), McLucas took over as secretary of the Air Force and skillfully managed its transition into the post-Vietnam era. Among the successful programs