John Paup was a rock climber, a former Air Force bomber pilot, an engineering expert in electronic countermeasures, and a great pitch man. He coined the term "Old Crows" for electronic countermeasures officers while attending the Strategic Air Command's new electronic countermeasures school in the late 1940's. RAVEN had been the code name used for radio/radar countermeasures by the military services during World War II. Paup got in the habit of referring to his instructors as "those old Crows".
Paup was born in Texas but his mother, Lulabell, a registered nurse, raised him in Los Angeles. He enlisted in the Army on 3 March 1941, lying about his age - claiming to be 21, when he was really only 18. He gave his profession as movie director and actor, demonstrating his gift for gab. He eventually wound up in the Army Air Corps, gained his pilot wings, and was educated at government expense to become of its greatest electronic 'black warfare' practitioners.
After leaving the Air Force in the late 1950's, Paup worked on the B-70 program at North American, but went to Sperry in Salt Lake City for the opportunity to be a program manager. But he had impressed North American managers as a witty and engaging speaker who understood technical issues and could effortlessly convey them to mixed audiences of technical and non-technical customers.
When North American decided to bid on the Apollo spacecraft contract, project manager Harrison Storms remembered Paup from the B-70 and recruited him as the man to distill the proposal into a winning format -- and also pitch the proposal to the NASA evaluation board. Paup came on board only six weeks before the final proposal presentation, and introduced frenetic energy into the proposal team. He had to convert the technical presentation, which ran nearly six hours in the first run-through, to the sixty-minute pitch demanded by NASA. He finally decided to make the pitch himself, and delivered it in fifty minutes.
Paup was made Apollo Program Manager after North American won the program, but found himself at odds with the NASA representative at the plant, Charlie Frick. Paup's military-type management style antagonized other North American managers; and his personality conflict with Frick, leading to recurring shouting matches, made him despised by NASA. In April 1963 NASA replaced Frick, but Paup got along no better with Joe Shea, Frick's replacement. Finally Storms bowed to NASA pressure and replaced Paup in the spring of 1964.
Paup passed away in Los Angeles only four years later and never saw the spacecraft he had helped create reach the moon.
Birth Place: , Texas.