Edward C. Aldridge was the 16th secretary of the Air Force.
He was born in Houston in 1938 and spent his youth in Shreveport, La. He received a bachelor of science degree in aeronautical engineering from Texas Agricultural and Mechanical University in 1960, and a master of science degree, also in aeronautical engineering, from the Georgia Institute of Technology in 1962.
Prior to joining the Department of Defense in 1967, Aldridge held various staff and management positions with the Douglas Aircraft Co., Missile and Space Division, in Santa Monica, Calif., and in Washington, D.C.
In 1967 he joined the staff of the assistant secretary of defense for systems analysis as an operations research analyst and then served as director of the Strategic Defensive Division until July 1972. He also served as an adviser to the Strategic Arms Limitation Talks in Helsinki and Vienna.
He re-entered private industry in 1972 as a senior manager with LTV Aerospace Corp. in Dallas for a year until he was named senior management associate in the Office of Management and Budget, Executive Office of the President, Washington, D.C.
Returning to the Department of Defense in February 1974, Aldridge served as deputy assistant secretary of defense for strategic programs until March 1976. He was then selected to be the director of planning and evaluation, a principal adviser to the secretary of defense in the planning and program evaluation of U.S. military forces and support structure.
He was named vice president, National Policy and Strategic Systems Group for the Systems Planning Corp., Arlington, Va., in March 1977. Aldridge was responsible for the corporation's study and analysis activities in the areas of strategic and conventional forces and long-range strategic planning.
In August 1981 he became under secretary of the Air Force with additional responsibility for providing overall direction, guidance and supervision for Air Force space programs, including launch and on-orbit operations, and planning for future space capabilities. Prior to the space shuttle Challenger accident in January 1986, Aldridge was in astronaut training in preparation for his participation as a payload specialist on the first shuttle mission from Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif. He assumed his present duties in June 1986.
His work in various assignments has earned him numerous awards. Among these are the Secretary of Defense Meritorious Civilian Service Award, Department of Defense Distinguished Civilian Service Award and Department of Defense Distinguished Public Service Award. He has been named a distinguished college of engineering alumnus from Texas A&M University and was the 1985 recipient of the American Astronautical Society Military Astronautics Award.