REDSTONE ARSENAL, Ala. -- The Jan. 26th annual membership luncheon of the Air, Space and Missile Defense Association included a tribute to the past with the unveiling of a Wall of Honor featuring leading scientists, business people and government civilians whose early contributions to the nation's space and missile defense have made it what it is today.

The Wall of Honor, located in the Davidson Center at the U.S. Space & Rocket Center, includes the names of 45 honorees. Of those, 31 were either in attendance or represented by their families.

"This wall honors past members of organizations dedicated to support our nation's efforts in space and missile defense," Debra Wymer, the association's 2011 president, said.

"These honorees were involved in the research, development, test and engineering of space and missile defense technologies and systems. These honorees gave a high level of commitment to our nation's missile defense and space mission. The success we enjoy today in air, space and missile defense can be directly attributed to the individuals on this wall."

The Wall of Honor, which includes pictures of each of the honorees along with a touch-screen video system that highlights the contributions of each honoree, was designed and planned by the ASMDA Wall of Honor Committee. It is actually the third rendition of the organization's historical memorial, which began with a Hall of Fame at the Space and Missile Defense Command's office at 106 Wynn Drive in the 1980s, and then moved to the command's headquarters at the Von Braun Complex at Redstone Arsenal. Every other year, ASMDA seeks nominations for additions to the memorial.

"We are so excited about this new version of the wall, designed for all to see and recognize the accomplishments of these dedicated people," Wymer said, noting that the new location allows better public access to the memorial.

Future additions to the memorial include a time line of space and missile defense, and models of systems developed by the honorees.

"I think this is a great idea," said Dr. Julian Davidson, whose work with the Ballistic Missile Defense Program has earned him the title of "grandfather of all ballistic missile defense" from his colleagues. "It's long overdue. I want to thank ASMDA for making this happen."

Davidson is the namesake of the U.S. Space & Rocket Center's Davidson Center. He is joined on the Wall of Honor by such historical contributors to space and missile defense as Pete Cerny, Dr. Shelba J. Profitt, Frank Vann, William Turney and Dr. William Davis Jr.

"I am really pleased to be in this kind of company," said Wall of Honor honoree Ed Vaughn, who served as a public affairs officer for the Strategic Defense Command at Redstone Arsenal. "It is fascinating to me to be a part of this. I got here too late to work with Dr. Wernher von Braun (the founder of the nation's space program), but I was associated with an organization that also tried to do things in space and missile defense that had never been done before."

Some of the honorees traveled lengthy distances to be part of the ceremony. Joseph Butler, the 43rd honoree on the Wall of Honor inducted in 2011, traveled from Columbia, S.C., with his wife.

"I am honored to be chosen and to be part of this Wall of Honor," he said. "I really felt it was necessary for me to be here and to share this with my colleagues."