United Press International
For the young men who came of age at the beginning of World War II, there was no real choice. They soon found themselves in the military. Russ Yoder had just graduated from high school in Alliance, Ohio, and begun his college studies at Kent State University when he decided the U.S. Navy was the best choice for the duration.
Once in the Navy, he earned a spot as a ship photographer and was assigned to the aircraft carrier Bunker Hill.
In the early 1950s, Yoder was hired by United Press and arrived at the Orlando bureau just in time to be sent to the early launches from Cape Canaveral. Although he subsequently moved to the Tallahassee, Miami and Atlanta bureaus, he still traveled to the Cape. Based in Atlanta from 1966 until retirement in 1985, he traveled south to cover the Apollo, Skylab and early space shuttle missions.
Just as NASA was in a race with the Russians, United Press was in a race with Associated Press and Reuters to get the picture on the wire first. So, the first pictures out were taken from NASA Kennedy Space Center's Launch Complex 39 Press Site like the one Yoder is holding in his picture. His shot of the liftoff of the Saturn V carrying the first Skylab module was taken just four seconds after engine start and was on the wires a few minutes later.
Space was not his only beat, and Yoder spent significant time covering spring baseball training starting in the 50s. He covered presidents when they visited his area and from the Atlanta bureau worked the master's golf tournaments.
Yoder was an avid radio amateur and pursued the hobby into retirement in Cave Spring, Ga., where he lives with his wife Patti.