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Charles Moss Duke, Jr.

the youngest person to walk on the Moon

NASA photo of Charles Duke

Biographical Data

Born October 3, 1935, in Charlotte, North Carolina

Married To Dorothy Meade Claiborne
Children two sons, Charles and Thomas


Lancaster (South Carolina) High School
Admiral Farragut Academy in St. Petersburg, Florida (valedictorian), 1953

Bachelor of Science in Naval Sciences U.S. Naval Academy, 1957
Master of Science in Aeronautics Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 1964

Honorary Doctorate of Philosophy University of South Carolina, 1973
Honorary Doctorate of Humanities Francis Marion College, 1990

Military Experience

Commissioned a Second Lieutenant in the U.S. Air Force upon graduation from the Naval Academy.
Received primary flight training at Spence Air Force Base, Georgia.
Received basic flight training at Webb Air Force Base, Texas, from which he graduated in 1958.

Completed advanced training in F-86L aircraft at Moody Air Force Base, Georgia.
Upon completion of this training, he served three years as a fighter interceptor pilot with the 526th Fighter Interceptor Squadron at Ramstein Air Base, Germany.

Graduated from the Air Force Aerospace Research Pilot School in 1965, and then became an instructor.

Promoted to Air Force Reserve Brigadier General in 1979, and retired with that rank in June 1986.

NASA Career

Selected as an astronaut in April 1966.

Member of the astronaut support crew for Apollo 10.

CAPCOM for Apollo 11.
It was he who was on the radio with
Neil Armstrong during the almost disastrous first manned landing on the Moon -- the Lunar Lander was several miles off course and dangerously low on fuel when it finally touched down.

Duke as CAPCOM for Apollo 11
Duke as CAPCOM for Apollo 11

Backup Lunar Module Pilot for Apollo 13.
Inadvertently exposed prime crew member Thomas "Ken" Mattingly to German measles. Mattingly had to be pulled from the mission as a result.

Lunar Module Pilot of Apollo 16, April 16-27, 1972.
Accompanied by Spacecraft Commander
John W. Young and Command Module Pilot Thomas "Ken" Mattingly II.
This was the first scientific expedition to inspect, survey, and sample materials and surface features in the Descartes region of the rugged lunar highlands.
He and Young each logged 20 hours and 15 minutes in extravehicular activities (spread out over three moonwalks), during which they collected almost 213 pounds of rock and soil samples. At 36 years of age, he was the youngest person ever to walk on the Moon.
Mattingly set a record for longest in-flight EVA from a command module (1 hour 13 minutes) when he ventured out to retrieve film cassettes from the panoramic and mapping cameras.

Duke walking on the Moon
Charles Duke walking on the Moon

family photo left on the Moon by Duke
family photo left on the Moon by Duke

Backup Lunar Module Pilot for Apollo 17.

Retired from NASA in December 1975.

Post-NASA Career

Owner of Duke Investments and president of Charlie Duke Enterprises. He is also an active speaker and Christian lay witness and president of Duke Ministry For Christ.


Air Force Association
Society of Experimental Test Pilots
Reserve Officer Association
Full Gospel Businessmen's Fellowship
Christian Businessmen's Committee
National Space Society

Recognitions and Awards

NASA Distinguished Service Medal (1970)
JSC Certificate of Commendation (1970)
Air Force Distinguished Service Medal with Oak Leaf Cluster (1972)
Air Force Legion of Merit (1972)
Air Force Command Pilot Astronaut Wings (1972)
SETP Iven C. Kincheloe Award (1972)
AAS Flight Achievement Award (1972)
AIAA Haley Astronautics Award (1973)
Federation Aeronautique Internationale V.M. Komarov Diploma (1973)
South Carolina Man of the Year (1973)
South Carolina Hall of Fame (1973)
Boy Scouts of America Distinguished Eagle Scout Award (1975)
International Space Hall of Fame (1983)

Astronaut Biographies
International Space Hall of Fame

Neil Armstrong
John W. Young

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This page was last updated on 04/10/2018.