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Pioneer U.S. Astronaut
Born Hackensack, New Jersey
March 12, 1923
Died LaJolla, California
May 3, 2007
Walter Marty Schirra. Jr. developed an interest in aviation through pride in his father's accomplishments as a pilot in World War I. He graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1945 and became a Naval Aviator in 1948. As a fighter pilot in Korea he flew 90 combat missions and downed two MIGs. After Korea he took part in development of Sidewinder missiles at the Naval Ordnance Test Station, then returned to the fleet and introduced the air to air missiles to operation squadrons. He was project pilot for the development of the F-7U Cutlass aircraft. He attended the University of Southern California and then completed test pilot training at the Naval Air Test Center, Patuxent River, Maryland. It was from this background that Wally Schirra was chosen with the first group of U.S. astronauts on April 9, 1959.
His first space flight in Mercury, Sigma 7, on October 3, 1962 was a flawless six orbit mission. He was Command Pilot for the Gemini VI-A Mission in December 1965, and performed the first rendezvous of two manned maneuverable spacecraft. On his final spaceflight, as Command Pilot of Apollo VII, Schirra's task on October 11, 1968 was to prove the reliability of the Apollo spacecraft on its first manned mission. He became the only astronaut to have flown as commander in Mercury, Gemini and Apollo programs. He retired from NASA and the Navy with the rank of Captain in July 1969 to enter private business.
Invested 1970 in the International Aerospace Hall of Fame
From "These We Honor," The International Hall of Fame; The San Diego Aerospace Museum, San Diego, CA. 1984
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Updated: May 09, 2007