Walter M. “Wally” Schirra Jr.


Walter M. “Wally” Schirra Jr.

Hackensack, Bergen County, New Jersey, USA
Death 3 May 2007 (aged 84)
La Jolla, San Diego County, California, USA
Cenotaph San Diego, San Diego County, California, USA
Plot Section MZ Site 106
Memorial ID 19196355 View Source
Suggest Edits

Astronaut. He was one of the original Mercury 7 astronauts chosen for the Project Mercury, the United States' first effort to put men in space. He was the only man to fly in America's first three space programs: Mercury, Gemini and Apollo and has logged a total of 295 hours and 15 minutes in space. Born into an aviation family in Hackensack, New Jersey, his father went to Canada during World War I and earned his pilot rating, later becoming a barnstorming show pilot. His mother went along on her husband's barnstorming tours and performed wing walking stunts. By the time he was 15, Walter Schirra was flying his father's airplane. He graduated from Dwight Morrow High School in Englewood, New Jersey and attended the New Jersey Institute of Technology in 1941, where he was a member of Sigma Pi Fraternity. He attended the United States Naval Academy at Annapolis, Maryland, and graduated in 1945. He was commissioned as an officer in the United States Navy, serving the final months of World War II aboard the cruiser "USS Alaska". After the war ended, he trained as a pilot at NAS Pensacola and joined an aircraft carrier fighter squadron, becoming only the second naval aviator to log 1,000 hours in jet aircraft. Upon the outbreak of the Korean War, Schirra was dispatched to South Korea as an exchange pilot on loan to the US Air Force. He served as a flight leader with the 136th Bomb Wing, and then as operations officer with the 154th Fighter Bomber Squadron. He flew 90 combat missions between 1951 and 1952, mostly in F-84s. He was credited with downing one MiG-15 and damaging two others, and received the Distinguished Flying Cross and the Air Medal with an oak leaf cluster for his service in Korea. After his tour there was over, Schirra served as a test pilot. At China Lake in California he tested weapons systems such as the Sidewinder missile and the F7U-3 Cutlass jet fighter. After spending time as a flight instructor and carrier based aviator, he later returned to his test pilot duties and helped evaluate the F-4 fighter for naval service. On April 2, 1959, he was chosen as one of the original seven American astronauts. He entered Project Mercury and was assigned the specialty area involving life support systems. On October 3, 1962, he became the fifth American in space, piloting the Mercury 8 (Sigma 7) on a six-orbit mission lasting 9 hours, 13 minutes, and 11 seconds. The capsule attained a velocity of 17,557 miles per hour and an altitude of 175 statute miles, and landed within four miles of the main Pacific Ocean recovery ship. On December 15, 1965, he flew into space a second time in Gemini 6A with Tom Stafford, rendezvousing with astronauts Frank Borman and James Lovell, Jr. in Gemini 7. This was the first rendezvous of two manned spacecraft in earth orbit. The two vehicles, however, were not capable of actually docking. Gemini 6 landed in the Atlantic Ocean the next day, while Gemini 7 continued on to a record-setting 14-day mission. On October 11, 1968, Schirra became the first man to fly in space three times on his final flight as commander of Apollo 7, the first manned flight in the Apollo program after a fatal fire during tests of Apollo 1. The three-man crew, including Donn Eisele and Walter Cunningham, spent eleven days in earth orbit, performed rendezvous exercises with the upper stage of the Saturn 1-B launch vehicle that rocketed them into space and provided the first television pictures from inside a United States manned spacecraft for which he received an Emmy Award. During later Apollo missions he served as a news consultant, often being interviewed by journalist Walter Cronkite on CBS News. Schirra's logbooks show a total of 4,577 hours flight time (295 in space) and 267 carrier landings. In the 1983 film "The Right Stuff" he was portayed by actor Lance Henriksen. In the 1998 miniseries "From the Earth to the Moon" he was played by actor Mark Harmon.

Bio courtesy of: Wikipedia



Family Members



In their memory
Plant Memorial Trees



How famous was Walter M. “Wally” Schirra Jr.?

Current rating:

311 votes

to cast your vote.

  • Maintained by: Find a Grave
  • Originally Created by: AJ
  • Added: 3 May 2007
  • Find a Grave Memorial 19196355
  • Find a Grave, database and images ( : accessed ), memorial page for Walter M. “Wally” Schirra Jr. (12 Mar 1923–3 May 2007), Find a Grave Memorial ID 19196355, citing Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery, San Diego, San Diego County, California, USA ; Maintained by Find a Grave .