WALTER SAMUEL MCAFEE (1914-1995)

WALTER SAMUEL MCAFEE (1914-1995)

POSTED ON JANUARY 9, 2015 CONTRIBUTED BY: CHRISTOPHER KINSON

Walter Samuel McAfee, theoretical physicist, professor, and civil servant was born in Ore City, Texas to Susie and Luther McAfee on September 2, 1914.  His father, Luther McAfee, was a mechanic and carpenter, while his mother, Susie, was an educator.  McAfee earned a Bachelor’s degree in Mathematics in 1934 from Wiley College, a Historically Black College and University (HBCU) in Marshall, Texas. In 1937, he earned a Master’s of Science degree from Ohio State University.

With his Master’s degree, McAfee taught mathematics and biological sciences at a junior high school in Columbus, Ohio.  In 1941, He married Viola Winston, who was teaching French at the same junior high school.

In 1942, McAfee joined the United States Army Signal Corps Engineering Laboratories at Fort Monmouth in Belmar, New Jersey. His knowledge and mathematical skillset propelled him onto the Project Diana team.  Project Diana was a scientific collaboration in which engineers, including mathematical physicist McAfee, studied the Earth’s relationship to the moon via radar signal echoing.  He contributed the necessary theoretical calculations including a radar cross-section of the moon, radar coverage pattern, and the distance to the moon, all of which were crucial to the project’s success.

This article appears in its entirety at The Black Past website. It can be read here.

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