“Spotlight? I spent a significant part of my professional life staying out of the spotlight,” says Raymond Muench ’53 when asked to be a Lancer Spotlight for Gilmour Magazine.
Talk about working undercover – he flew night missions from runways without lights and worked in covert communications and special operations.
When Muench transferred to Gilmour in 1949, he was 5-foot-4 and weighed about 100 pounds. By the time he graduated he was a foot taller and a hundred pounds heavier. After graduating from Villanova University with a bachelor’s degree in physics, Muench wanted “to build dams and power plants in the jungles of South America.” He even had an engineering job lined up. Instead he was drafted to serve in Vietnam. “Wrong jungle!” he jokes. “That isn’t in the plan.”
After completing Navy Flight School, Muench was sent to Japan in 1964 and lived 20 miles from Hiroshima flying intelligence missions over the South China Sea and the Sea of Japan. He searched for survivors and wreckage after the Gulf of Tonkin Incident that led to greater U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War. While stationed in Saigon, Muench witnessed a Vietnamese military coup. During his 21 years with the Navy, he was a test pilot for the Collision Avoidance system and worked for four years doing research on aviation and communications systems for the Naval Laboratories. He retired from the Navy as program manager for Airborne Strategic Communications overseeing work that allows the president to launch nuclear missiles. While in the Navy, he earned a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from the U.S. Naval Postgraduate School, a master’s degree in systems engineering from the University of Florida and did postgraduate work in information theory at George Washington University.
Gilmour’s aerospace adventurer went to work for Booz Allen & Hamilton in 1981 and was director for avionics systems developing Star Wars and was part of a team that produced the Space Station. When the Berlin Wall came down, Muench witnessed the event and keeps a piece of the wall on his desk. “Gilmour’s meager, but strong, introduction to ‘arts’ subjects served as the foundation to build a somewhat well-rounded individual,” he says, “who was required to discuss current events with scientific and management leaders from the United States and foreign countries.” During his career, Muench also was principal scientist for EG&G, a U.S. national defense contractor, before retiring in 1995.
After living all over the world in places such as Japan, Spain and Sicily, Muench and his wife, Joyce, have settled in Vienna, Va. They have four children and several grandchildren. Over the years he says, “I learned that life is similar to being a pinball; bouncing from one unexpected bump by the machine of life to another; adjusting continuously for surprise encounters.”