White Sands Missile Range Hall of Fame

Glenn Elder
Chief of Nuclear Effects Lab
Served 1955 – 1974
Inducted 1985

Mr. Glenn E. Elder was born March 24, 1914, in Fort Wayne, Indiana. He attended Indiana University from 1930 to 1934 majoring in chemistry. From 1948 to 1950 he studied physics at the University of Evansville in Indiana. He obtained a master’s degree in physical metallurgy from the University of Tennessee in 1952. There he also completed course work for a Ph.D.

Mr. Elder came to White Sands Proving Ground in 1955. During his first year he served as Chief of the Environmental and General Branch, Electro Mechanical Laboratories. From 1956 to 1959, he was Assistant for Research for the same agency.

In 1956 and 1957, Elder wrote a proposal for testing the Nike Hercules Guidance System in a nuclear environment. The first test was conducted with Los Alamos Scientific Laboratory’s Godiva reactor in 1957. The test led to funding for Nevada tests.

In June 1958, Elder presented to an ad hoc committee of the Ordnance Department a proposal for establishing a Nuclear Effects Laboratory at WSMR. The proposal was unanimously endorsed. The following year Elder was named Chief of the Nuclear Effects Laboratory.

The Nuclear Effects Laboratory complex was completed and occupied in July 1964. With its Gamma Linear Electron Accelerator, Gamma Radiation Facility, Electro Magnetic Pulse Array and Solar Furnace, it is the most complete nuclear effects testing facility in the Department of Defense.

Elder served as Chief of the laboratory until his retirement in 1974.

Mr. Elder died in December 1987.