NASA’s Day of Remembrance
In loving memory of the remarkable men and women who gave their lives advancing the frontiers of exploration.
Theodore Cordy “Ted” Freeman (February 18, 1930 – October 31, 1964) – Ted was a quiet, dedicated guy with a wry sense of humor and an unbridled passion for flying. In high school he was student body president and had a reputation for standing up to bullies. He rode his bike to work every morning and around the neighborhood with his wife and daughter every evening.
Ted loved Danny Kaye and bird-watching and his work in the space program, and dreamed of flying to the moon.
Elliot McKay See, Jr. (July 23, 1927 – February 28, 1966) – Elliot, previously a naval aviator and General Electric test pilot, was wholly dedicated to being an astronaut. He was close friends with Neil Armstrong and was instrumental in developing plans for lunar missions, such as electrical systems and lighting conditions. El was also kind and humble, with smiling eyes, a deep faith in God, a love for the show Bonanza, and a desire to make a contribution to mankind.
Charles Arthur “Charlie” Bassett II (December 30, 1931 – February 28, 1966) – The first thing you’d notice about Charlie was his grin, the brightest smile and the warmest eyes. In addition to being an astronaut, he was a jack of all trades—an amateur chef, a skillful MC, and an avid reader, who loved old cars and watching ballet. He was a strong advocate for education, in both the arts and sciences. Above all else, Charlie loved flying and dreamed of the moon.
Virgil Ivan “Gus” Grissom (April 3, 1926
– January 27, 1967) – One of the original astronauts, the second American in space, the first human to fly in space twice, likely scheduled to be the first man to walk on the moon. Gus earned a reputation as a serious, dedicated astronaut who didn’t say a word unless it was worth saying. He was also a masterful goof—practical jokes, driving too fast, playing Napoleon in the jungle, evading the press by wearing disguises, falling asleep while flying supersonic jets at 35,000 feet… From the start, his fellow astronauts “thought the world of him.” He loved flying more than anything and was beyond proud to serve his country in a way that would allow him to achieve his dreams. To me, he’s more than just a hero. I owe more to Gus than I can put into words. Thank you, bubba.
Edward Higgins “Ed” White II (November 14, 1930 – January 27, 1967) – Ed, our Dwarde, was an All-American boy in the truest sense. With his red hair and huge grin, his near-Olympian superhuman strength, his deep laugh and poetic soul, it was impossible not to love him. He performed the first American spacewalk and was a natural born leader. In the words of a fellow astronaut, people “instinctively felt better” just being around Ed. A beautiful man with a beautiful heart.
Roger Bruce Chaffee (February 15, 1935 – January 27, 1967) – One of the sweetest, brightest men to ever join the space program. Roger was intelligent but modest, practical but a dreamer and an optimist, an incredible engineer. Responsible and kind and fun and devoted to his family and his career. He had bright eyes and a playful smirk and boundless excitement towards his first spaceflight and the program as a whole. Roger was a pioneer in every sense of the word.
Edward Galen “Ed” Givens, Jr. (January 5, 1930 – June 6, 1967) – Ed, known as Galen to his family and Give to friends from the Naval Academy, was everything you could want in an astronaut. Flight was his first and utmost passion. He helped develop the AMU (later used by astronauts during spacewalks) and served on the support crews for Apollo 1 and 7. He was incredibly close to his parents and devoted to his wife, their four children, and his “girlfriend,” a Dalmatian named Cleo. He was a talented pilot, a generous, motivated man, and an astronaut.
Clifton Curtis “C.C.” Williams, Jr. (September 26, 1932 – October 5, 1967) – C.C. was a tall, funny, gregarious Marine from Alabama, with a puppy named Lord Percy Plushbottom and “an unbelievable amount of faith” in God. For a time he was the first and only bachelor in the astronaut corps, until he met his wife Beth and they started a family. Though he only had a short time with them, he passed his philosophy for life down to his daughters—“work hard, be dedicated to your goals, and have a sense of humor.”
Michael James “Mike” Adams (May 5, 1930 – November 15, 1967) – Mike was an Air Force pilot who flew combat missions in Korea and served as an aerospace research pilot before joining the MOL program and qualifying for astronaut status on his final flight. He was quiet and serious, but had a sharp, deadpan sense of humor. He was a theater star in high school and dabbled in music throughout his life, including taking up accordion. Most of all he loved old cars, hunting, and flying his planes.
Robert Henry “Bob” Lawrence, Jr. (October 2, 1935 – December 8, 1967) – Bob was a remarkable and incredibly talented young pilot who joined the MOL program after serving as an Air Force flight instructor and test pilot. He was also a brilliant mind with an early interest in science, graduating from high school at 16 and later earning a PhD in Physical Chemistry. His test pilot work later contributed to development of the space shuttle. He had a soft spot for animals, was a talented piano player, and loved fast cars and fast planes.
Bob was the first African-American astronaut, and humble yet proud of his accomplishments and his position as a role model for young black kids across the country.
Francis Richard “Dick” Scobee
(May 19, 1939 – January 28, 1986) – Dick, or Scob, was the definition of the word ‘perseverance.’ Hard work and dedication throughout school, his military service in Vietnam, and test pilot career led to his selection as an astronaut and shuttle commander. He was an extremely down-to-earth, kind, and genuine man. Flying was his passion and he was a remarkable leader and inspiration for his crew and everyone who knew him.
Michael John “Mike” Smith
(April 30, 1945 – January 28, 1986) – Mike was curious about everything—he was handy, could build anything, taught himself to sew, loved flying and dreamed of becoming either a Blue Angel or an astronaut. He drove fast and loved Carly Simon and was beyond excited for his first space flight. Mike kept an H.G. Wells quote on his dresser: “For man, there is no rest and no ending. He must go on–conquest beyond conquest… And when he has conquered all the depths of space and all the mysteries of time, still he will be but beginning.”
Ellison Shoji “El” Onizuka
(June 24, 1946 – January 28, 1986) – Born in Hawaii, El was the first Asian American astronaut to fly in space and was always proud of his roots. He was fascinated by aerospace from a young age, and when El set his mind to something, he got it done.
He was committed to sharing his experiences with students in Hawaii and encouraging kids to follow their dreams as he did.
Judith Arlene “Judy” Resnik
(April 5, 1949 – January 28, 1986) – Judy was one of the first women in space and the first Jewish American to fly in space. She was gifted in school, a classical pianist, a perfectionist but fun and headstrong. She had a crush on Tom Selleck. Her friends called her a live-wire and an astronaut’s astronaut. Her legacy lives on through her passion for education and science and the lives she touched.
Ronald Erwin “Ron” McNair
(October 21, 1950 – January 28, 1986) – Ron had a brilliant mind and an equally beautiful soul. Before becoming an astronaut, he was an MIT graduate and nationally-renowned physicist. While studying for his PhD, Ron was mugged and lost two years worth of data. He immediately went to work and recollected all of it in less than a year. His drive was incredible. He was the second African-American to fly in space, a black belt in taekwondo, and loved jazz and playing saxophone.
Gregory Bruce “Greg” Jarvis
(August 24, 1944 – January 28, 1986) – Greg’s passion and excitement in the space program was palpable. His enthusiasm for everything else in life was just as evident—backpacking, rafting, skiing, surfing, marathons, and especially cycling. He was quiet but friendly, a dedicated engineer with an untiring work ethic powered by endless energy. Greg’s big smile and genuine thoughtfulness impacted hundreds of lives throughout his own.
Sharon Christa McAuliffe
(September 2, 1948 – January 28, 1986) – Christa’s excitement towards her first space flight was infectious. Chosen to fly on the shuttle as part of the Teacher in Space program, Christa exemplified all the best things about education and learning. She was an inspiration not just for children, but fellow teachers and adults across the country. She loved teaching and her students and her family. She became close with Greg Jarvis, the other civilian on the flight crew. Christa was fun and magnetic, and left a lasting legacy on spaceflight and education.
Manley Lanier “Sonny” Carter, Jr.
(August 15, 1947 – April 5, 1991) – Before joining the astronaut corps, Sonny (also known to friends as Billy Bob) played professional soccer while attending medical school. He was a Boy Scout, a wrestling champion, and loved the L.A. Dodgers. He helped develop space-walking techniques during his six years at NASA and was well-loved within the Astronaut Office.
Richard Douglas “Rick” Husband
(July 12, 1957 – February 1, 2003) – Rick, above all else, was devoted to his God, his family, and his crew. His faith informed every aspect of his life and he was beyond honored to lead such an incredible group of people. He went out of his way to make sure everyone he met walked away with a smile on their face. Rick’s kindness, generosity, and faith cannot be overstated. His favorite Bible verse was Proverbs 3:5-6: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make your paths straight.”
William Cameron “Willie” McCool
(September 23, 1961 – February 1, 2003) – Willie was one of the most energetic and upbeat astronauts in a crew of enthusiastic people. He was an incredible athlete who loved competition. He was equally dedicated to his job, getting things done and helping others in any way he could. He touched an incredible number of lives with his selflessness and drive throughout his life.
David McDowell “Dave” Brown
(April 16, 1956 – February 1, 2003) – Dave was a genuine Renaissance Man, a “humble overachiever.” A doctor, a gymnast, a pilot, a filmmaker, a cyclist, a former circus performer, an astronaut. He was extremely close to his parents and Duggins, his Labrador Retriever and best friend. His enthusiasm for spaceflight was contagious and inspired not only the rest of the crew but everyone he met.
Kalpana “K.C.” Chawla
(March 17, 1962 – February 1, 2003) – Growing up in India, K.C. was inspired by her older brother and was set on becoming a pilot. She was quiet but brilliant and unwaveringly optimistic. Her smile lit up the room. K.C. was funny and loving and appreciated every moment she had with her family, with her crew, and in space.
Michael Phillip “Mike” Anderson
(December 25, 1959 – February 1, 2003) – Mike was soft-spoken, sweet guy with a bright smile and an even brighter mind. He had an insatiable curiosity in science, in chemistry and computers and spaceflight. He always dreamed of becoming an astronaut. As a kid, he wore goggles while mowing lawns to protect his eyes because an eye injury could prevent him from flying someday. Mike started a bible study along with Rick and had an abiding faith in God.
Laurel Blair Salton Clark
(March 10, 1961 – February 1, 2003) – Laurel was a natural-born explorer—hiking, diving, submarines, helicopters, and then the space shuttle. One of eight siblings, she was also a medical doctor, a wife, and a mother. Her optimism and excitement about spaceflight carried over into her enthusiasm for children and education. In her last letter home to family, she wrote, “Thanks to many of you who have supported me and my adventures throughout the years… I hope you could feel the positive energy that beamed to the whole planet as we glided over our shared planet.”
Ilan Ramon (June 20, 1954 – February 1, 2003) – Ilan was the first Israeli astronaut. The son and grandson of Holocaust survivors, he was extremely proud and humble to represent Israelis and Jews across the world. He ate kosher food during his shuttle flight, carried a Torah scroll from the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp, and prayed the Shema when they flew over Jerusalem. Ilan was warm, always smiling, and had an incredibly loving family.
“If we die, we want people to accept it. We are in a risky business, and we hope that if anything happens to us it will not delay the program. The conquest of space is worth the risk of life.” -Gus Grissom
Ad astra per aspera.