United States Astronaut. He was born in Dayton, Ohio, and attended Ohio State University from 1950 to 1952. He then entered the United States Air Force as an Aviation Cadet. He trained at Stallings Air Force Base, North Carolina, Bryan Air Force Base, Texas, and Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada, completing advanced work in April 1954. He went to the Pacific with the 8th Fighter Bomber Group and was promoted to First Lieutenant in May 1955. He returned for pilot duties at Suffolk County Air Force Base, New York, serving until April 1958 when he took the electrical engineering course at the U.S. Air Force Institute of Technology at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio. From 1958 to 1960 he studied at Texas Tech where he finished his studies started at Ohio State. He received a Bachelor of Science Degree in Electrical Engineering with honors. His graduate work was done at the University of Southern California. He was promoted to Captain in January 1960 while on duty at Edwards Air Force Base, California. In November 1960 he went to Maxwell Air Force Base, Alabama, to attend Squadron Officer School and returned to Edwards as an experimental test pilot in the Fighter Projects Office. He was a member of the third group of fourteen astronauts named by NASA in October 1963. He was later chosen along with Elliot See for the prime crew slot of Gemini IX, with Thomas P. Stafford and Eugene A. Cernan serving as the backup crew. With the flight of Gemini IX coming up, both crews took off the morning of February 28, 1966, in their T-38 jet training planes headed for the McDonnell plant in St Louis. Here they would spend two weeks training in the simulator. The weather in St. Louis was rainy and foggy, and there was no visibility, as the jets of the two crews approached the St. Louis Municipal Airport. The jet that he and See were in was cleared to land first, using an instrument landing. See misjudged his landing approach, and in pulling up from the runway turned toward the McDonnell complex, 1000 feet from the landing strip. The T-38 hit the roof of the building where their spacecraft was being assembled, bounced into an adjacent courtyard, and exploded. Both astronauts were killed, and 14 persons on the ground were injured. Minutes later the Gemini IX backup crew, Stafford and Cernan, landed safely. As a result, the Gemini IX backup crew became the prime crew, (a NASA first), and all subsequent crew assignments were reshuffled. This ended up determining who would be the first man on the moon.
Bio by: Ugaalltheway
US Air Force