|Roger B. Chaffee
Roger Bruce Chaffee was born in
Grand Rapids, Michigan, on February 15, 1935. The
son of a former barnstorming pilot, he got his
first plane ride at the age of seven, courtesy of
his father, and by the age of nine he was
determined to become a pilot.
By the time Chaffee got to
Central High School he was showing aptitude in
electronics, mechanics, and chemistry. By his
junior year he was leaning toward a career as a
nuclear physicist, and as a senior he let it be
known that he wanted to someday have his
name written in history books. He graduated in
the top fifth of his class in 1953.
A Naval Reserve Officers Training Corps
(NROTC) scholarship took Chaffee to the Illinois
Institute of Technology in Chicago, and by the
end of his first academic year he had settled on
aeronautical engineering. The NROTC allowed him
to transfer to Purdue University in 1954, and he
received his Bachelor of Science
in Aeronautical Engineering from that institution
in June 1957. He completed his basic naval
training and was commissioned as an Ensign in the
U.S. Navy in August.
Chaffee received his flight
training in Pensacola, Florida, where he flew the
T-34 Mentor and T-28 Trojan, and then in
Kingsville, Texas, where he flew the F-9F Cougar.
He began aircraft carrier training in November
1958, and earned his wings early the following
year. He subsequently served as safety
officer and quality control officer for Heavy
Photographic Squadron 62 at the Naval Air Station
in Jacksonville, Florida, in which capacity he
photographed the launch facilities at Cape
Canaveral and participated in U.S. reconnaissance
flights during the Cuban
Missile Crisis in October 1962. In January
1963, he entered the Air Force Institute of
Technology at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base,
Ohio, to work on a Master of Science Degree in
Having achieved his first dream of becoming a
pilot, Chaffee next set his sights on becoming an
astronaut. He achieved that objective in October
1963, when he was chosen as one of the third
group of astronauts selected by NASA; at 28 years
of age, he became the youngest person ever
selected by NASA at that point in time for
astronaut training. In addition to participating
in the overall training program. he served as a
capsule communicator for the Gemini IV mission
and worked on flight control, communications,
instrumentation, and attitude and translation
control systems in the Apollo Program.
On March 21, 1966, he was selected as one of
the pilots for the AS-204 mission, the first
3-man Apollo flight. On January 27, 1967,
he, Virgil "Gus"
Grissom, and Edward H.
White II were killed when a fire broke out in
their Apollo capsule during a launch pad test at
the Kennedy Space Center.
Lieutenant Commander Chaffee was survived by
his wife Martha (Horn), whom he had married in
1967, and two children, Sheryl and Stephen. He is
burried at Arlington National Cemetery.
Astronaut Biographies http://www.jsc.nasa.gov/Bios/htmlbios/chaffee-rb.html
NASA History http://history.nasa.gov/Apollo204/zorn/chaffee.htm
January 27, 1967
Edward H. White II
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