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Fellows Profile
By Tom Godfrey, OSSC Historian
2nd Recipient of the OSSC Lifetime Achievement Award - June 2016


-Tom Godfrey-

Tom Godfrey was OSSC President in 1973 - 1974, having started as Arrangements Chairman in 1969 at the request of then-President Don Nicholson, and subsequently serving as Treasurer, Secretary, and Vice President.


During 1995-1996, President David Kramer asked Mr. Godfrey to find out which OSSC Fellows were alive, so that they might be honored at the June meeting that year.  The next President, Susan Raffensperger (now  Rico) asked Tom to become the Society's first Historian, a position he continues to hold.


In addition to his duties as Historian, Tom has played a key role on the society's Nominating Committees for several years.  He proposed putting officer candidate's photos and biographies on the ballots, which has given members more information on whom to elect.  Mr. Godfrey also suggested that these bios and officer's photos be posted on the web site, along with the list of Past Officers.  Many of the excellent speakers at OSSC meetings were the result of Tom's efforts behind the scenes.


The Board of Directors elected Tom Godfrey as the Society's 18th Fellow at the June, 1999 board meeting, and presented him with a commemorative plaque at the society's first 1999-2000 meeting on October 6th, 1999 at the Wyndham Gardens Hotel in Monrovia.


Thomas Erwin Godfrey was born in Morris, Illinois on November 9, 1938 to Erwin, a lawyer, and Lois, a school teacher.  He won recognition for math and science in high school, and graduated with a BS in Engineering Physics from the University of Illinois in 1960.  Without realizing it, his career in optics began during college when a Physics professor hired him to do first-order 2x2 matrix paraxial ray tracing of nuclear particles through magnetic lenses of a particle accelerator.  He also set up a periscope to allow viewing of the target materials being bombardeded.


After graduation, Tom married Karen Bergstrom, whom he first met in the 5th grade, moved to California, and Tom began his career as an engineer and manager in optics and electro-optics at Northrop Corporation.  He took Walter Wallin's optics classes, and courses in servomechanisms and mathematics at UCLA.In 1967 Tom and his manager, Paul Halderman to Milt Laikin's UCLA Extension class on how to design optics with David Grey's Optimization Computer Program, which he says "made me an optics designer"!


The first system Tom worked on  at Northrop was the Skybolt Missile star tracking Astro-Inertial System, which evolved with almost no optical changes into today's NAS-27 Guidance System for the Northrop Grumman B-2 Stealth Bomber.  Tom and Susan designed a diamond-turned aspheric reflective mirror to replace the refractive doublet Mangin secondary mirror assembly, and designed and built improved optics for a new Telescope Calibration Set.  Few people have been privileged to work on improvements to a system near the end of their career that they first started working on at the beginning of their career nearly 50 years ago!


Other EO systems Tom worked on include: Target Identification System Electro Optical (TISEO) for the Air Force F-4; Television Camera Set (TCS) for the Navy F-14; Tracking Adjunct System (TAS) for the Army / USMC Hawk Radar / Missile defensive system; the TV, FLIR, and Boresighting modules for the Scout Helicopter Mast Mounted Sight (MMS); and the Consolidated Automated Sensor System (CASS) and it's Advanced Telescope Optical Sub-System (ATOSS) for automated testing of Navy electro-optical systems on ships at sea.


Tom helped design, fabricate, test, and demonstrate many one-of-a-kind electro-optical systems, including: UV lenses and an all-reflective telescope and steering mirror for a multi-band photometer for the X-15 Rocket Craft; the Airborne Light-weight Optical Telescope System (ALOTS) for the Air Force KC-135 missile launch and reentry monitoring cameras; the 8 or so Northrop Competitive Development Phase Target Acquisition / Designation Systems and Pilot Night Vision Systems (TADS / PNVS) for the Army AAH-64 Attack Helicopters; the Laser Electro Optical System (LEOS) active TV system test-flown at Edwards AFB on an F-4.  In addition, Tom designed optics and systems for numerous proposed systems.


Tom holds several patents for precision boresighting of aiming FLIRs,TVs and Direct-view Sights to laser designator and guidance beams, as well as for testing of electro-optical sensors and laser designator systems for sensor performance and boresight accuracy.  He is on "The Honor Roll of Northrop Inventors" in recognition of his contributions to the science and technology of laser Target Designator Boresighting and Testing.


In 1994 Northrop Grumman was formed.  Tom took an early retirement that December, but was back by May 1995 as contract a optical designer, which he continued to do part-time (at Northrop Grumman, primarily!), until recently.  He is Special Programs Chairman for the Anaheim Chapter of the Northrop Grumman Retirement Club. He was in Northrop weekly summer twilight leagues and monthly club tournamentsfor 29 years and continues to enjoy golf with his church and retired Northrop pals. 


Tom and Karen Godfrey live in Orange County, California and have two grown sons, Grant  of Huntington Beach and Jim of Orange, and 3 grand-kids, Oto, Mona and Tommy.  Tom is active in the leadership of his church.  He is an Emeritous Member of the OSA, a Retired Member of the SPIE, a member of the MT. Wilson Observatory Association (MWOA), the "SOS" (formerly Northrop) Golf Club, the USGA, and the University of Illinois Alumni Association.Tom is available for Optical Design and Electro-Optical Engineering Consulting and Contract work.


Thomas E. Godfrey
(Contact Information)


Corporate Address:  14271 Jeffrey Road, Suite 136
Irvine, California 92620
The OSSC is a non-profit 501(C)3 tax exempt corporation.
The OSSC does NOT endorse candidates for public office or contribute to political candidates or campaigns.

Updated: 16 September 2019
Added 9 October Meeting Registration