Besides being an NAE member, Fritz Oder was a fellow of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics; a member of the Scientific Research Society of America; a senior member of the American Astronautical Society; a fellow of the Explorers Club; a member of F&AM Lodge 712 (Los Altos, California); and a member of the Commonwealth Club of California.
In addition to being named an NRO pioneer and an inductee to the Air Force Space and Missiles Hall of Fame, his many awards included the Legion of Merit for Accomplishments as program director, First Air Force Space Program (WS-117L). He was affiliated with Sigma Xi, was on the Board of Governors of the National Space Club, and was a member of the Cosmos Club.
In 2000, at the age of 80—after the fall of the Berlin Wall but before the terror attacks of 2001—Fritz Oder gave an extended interview to NRO historians about his life and career. His closing assessment of the risks facing the world was prescient: “The NRO and its leadership are confronted by a world that probably is more dangerous in the 21st century than it was when we were working on our projects during the Cold War. We mainly had the Soviet Union to deal with, whereas in the 21st century there are more numerous threats. The U.S. continues to need accurate, timely information on a range of potential adversaries, yet national reconnaissance alone cannot provide all of the answers. There is a continuing need for high-quality human intelligence in addition to the unique systems and capabilities provided by the NRO.”
Fritz’s wife Dorothy Oder predeceased him. He is survived by Doris Parrish Oder and his children, Frederic C. Oder, Richard Oder, and Barbara Debes, and five grandchildren.
Dr. Coffman wishes to thank the National Reconnaissance Office for its invaluable help in preparing this tribute.
Widlake, P.D. 2007. In Memoriam: Frederic (Fritz) C. E. Oder, Colonel, USAF (Ret.). National Reconnaissance: Journal of the Discipline and Practice, 2007-U (in press).
Interview with Frederic C.E. Oder at the National Reconnaissance Office Headquarters, September 26, 2000.