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 Alan Bartlett Shepard, Jr
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Alan Bartlett Shepard, Jr

  • Birth 18 Nov 1923 Derry, Rockingham County, New Hampshire, USA
  • Death 22 Jul 1998 Pebble Beach, Monterey County, California, USA
  • Cenotaph East Derry, Rockingham County, New Hampshire, USA
  • Plot Sec 2 Shepard Ave, Plot 178
  • GPS
  • Memorial ID 8367

American Astronaut. The first American into space, he is currently the oldest man to have walked on the moon. Born in Derry, New Hampshire, the son of Army Lieutenant Colonel Alan B. Shepard and Renza Emerson Shepard, Alan Jr graduated from the Admiral Farragut Academy (military high school) in 1941, and received a BS degree in Engineering from the US Naval Academy in 1944. Graduating in the middle of World War II, he was immediately assigned to the destroyer USS Cogswell, and was deployed to the Pacific Ocean. On March 3, 1945, he married Louise Brewer of Kennett Square, Pennsylvania, whom he had met while at the Naval Academy; they would have two daughters: Laura and Juliana. In addition, he would raise a niece, Alice. After the war, he applied for flight training, and received his pilot's wings in 1947. He was then assigned to Fighter Squadron 42 at Norfolk, Virginia, and later to several aircraft carriers. In 1950, he graduated from the US Navy's Test Pilot School at Patuxent River, Maryland, and worked on several high-altitude tests to determine the nature of air flow and air mass at high altitudes. He later joined VF-193 Squadron at Moffett Field, California, as the operations officer, and made two tours of the Pacific aboard the aircraft carrier USS Oriskany. Following a tour as instructor in the Test Pilot School, he attended the Naval War College at Newport, RI. In April 1959, he was one of the first pilots to be selected by NASA for Project Mercury, and was the first American sent into space on May 5, 1961 on the Freedom 7 spacecraft. In early 1964, Shepard was diagnosed with Meniere's disease, which resulted in his removal from flight status, although he continued to work with NASA, developing astronaut training programs and evaluating flight equipment. Following corrective surgery in May 1969, he was restored to flight status and initially assigned to command Apollo 13. Feeling he needed more training time, he postponed his flight to Apollo 14, and at age 47, made the third trip to the moon, and becoming the oldest man to step foot on the moon, as well as setting the current (as of 2006) record for the longest stay on the moon (33 hours). Shepard is also remembered for sneaking a golf club and several balls to the moon, becoming the first to play golf there; although he hooked his first shot, his second hit went for several miles in the moon's lesser gravity. Shepard was promoted to Rear Admiral in June 1971 and retired from the Navy (and NASA) on August 1, 1974. A shrewd businessman, Shepard also holds the distinction of being the first astronaut to become a millionaire while in the program. The holder of the Congressional Space Medal of Honor, the Distinguished Service Medal and Distinguished Flying Cross, the US Navy honored him by naming a ship, the USS Alan Shepard (T-AKE-3), and New Hampshire honored him by naming a portion of Interstate 93 through Derry, New Hampshire (his birthplace) the Alan B. Shepard Highway, and the local Derry post office after him. In 1988, Shepard and astronaut Deke Slayton wrote "Moon Shot: The Inside Story of America's Race to the Moon" about their careers. In 1996, Shepard was diagnosed with leukemia, and died near his home in Pebble Beach, California at the age of 74. His wife, Louise Brewer Shepard, died five weeks afterwards. Their ashes were scattered from a helicopter hovering over Stillwater Cove near their home in Pebble Beach, Califonria. There is a cenotaph for the couple at Forest Hill Cemetery in East Derry, New Hampshire.

Bio by: Kit and Morgan Benson


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  • Maintained by: Find A Grave
  • Added: 3 Feb 2000
  • Find A Grave Memorial 8367
  • Find A Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed ), memorial page for Alan Bartlett Shepard, Jr (18 Nov 1923–22 Jul 1998), Find A Grave Memorial no. 8367, citing Forest Hill Cemetery, East Derry, Rockingham County, New Hampshire, USA ; Maintained by Find A Grave .