Categories: Eagle Scout-Palm | United States Navy | Apollo 1 Crew Members | Apollo Astronauts | Collaborative Profile of the Week | Arlington National Cemetery, Arlington, Virginia | Purdue University | United States Astronaut Hall of Fame | American Notables | Air Medal | NASA Distinguished Service Medal | Congressional Space Medal of Honor.
Roger lived what sounds like the ideal all American life: making models, taking vacations with his family, delivering newspapers, playing an instrument in the high school band, achieving rank of Eagle Scout and being presented with both the Bronze and Gold Palms as a Boy Scout. He graduated from Central High School in Grand Rapids, Michigan, on 11 June 1953.
He attended the Illinois Institute of Technology in Chicago with a NROTC scholarship in September 1953. By the end of his first year, Chaffee decided to combine his love of flying, his aptitude in science and mathematics to pursue a degree in aeronautical engineering and so transfered to Purdue University in Lafayette, Indiana in the fall of 1954.
During college, Chaffee worked at several jobs, did his short naval tours as part of the NROTC program, and met his future wife, Martha Horn, took flight training, and flew his solo flight. Roger graduated 2 June 1957, with a Bachelor of Science in aeronautical engineering. Roger Chaffee completed his Naval training 22 Aug 1957, and was commissioned as an Ensign in the United States Navy.
Chaffee learned to fly T-34, and T-28 trainer planes and the jet F9F, and took training on an aircraft carrier, completed his flight training and won his wings in 1959.
|During the Cuban Missile Crisis while attached to the Heavy Photographic Squadron 62 (VAP-62), Chaffee took crucial photos of Cuba. He was awarded the Air Medal. It was the first of two Air Medals which he would receive.||
In 1963, NASA began recruiting a third group of astronauts. Roger Chaffee became part of 1,800 applicants who sought one of the openings in the astronaut corps. At the same time, he studied for a Master's degree in reliability engineering at the Air Force Institute of Technology at Wright-Patterson AFB.
Roger was named to the astronaut corps with thirteen other pilots on 18 October 1963. They then began rigorous training in preparation for space.
On February 1, 1966, Chaffee was promoted to Lieutenant Commander.
In 1966, the crew for the Apollo 1 mission was announced and everything that Roger Chaffee had been working toward would come to fruition.
Lieutenant Commander Chaffee was buried at Arlington National Cemetery.
|The NASA Distinguished Service Medal was awarded to fifty during 1969. Roger Chaffee was one of those fifty. He received this medal posthumously.||
During 1983, Roger Chaffee was inducted into the International Space Hall of Fame at the New Mexico Museum of Space History.
It was on October 22, 1994 that Roger Chaffee was enshrined at the aerospace & science museum, Air Zoo, for his contributions to the United States. He was dedicated to the advancement of the United States space program.
Roger Chaffee is the only astronaut in the United States Astronaut Hall of Fame who never flew in space. He was part of the third class of 25 astronauts who were inducted in 1997.
|On December 17, 1997, President Bill Clinton presented Roger Chaffee with the Congressional Space Medal of Honor (posthumously) ||
Remembering the Life and Legacy of Roger Chaffee on His 80th Birthday gives insight on his early days as an astronaut and memories of his neighbor and fellow astronaut, Gene Cernan:
"Chaffee and Gene Cernan were both lieutenants, earning no more $10,000 per annum, but the lucrative astronaut contracts with Life magazine allowed them to buy lots on Barbuda Lane, where they built their houses, side by side, and separated by a thin wooden fence. “We moved in within ten days of each other,” wrote Cernan in his memoir, The Last Man on the Moon. “Roger had the first swimming pool on the block and I built a walk-in bar in my family room, so we became a gathering place for many parties.”
He admiringly described Chaffee as “a workaholic” and noted that the two men frequently went hunting together. Cernan did not possess a rifle of his own, so used one of Chaffee’s hand-crafted creations—a .243 Magnum—which Martha later gave to him as a keepsake. During one hunting trip, with the golfing legend Jimmy Demaret, Cernan endured airsickness and Chaffee teased him mercilessly. “You gonna barf on the way to the Moon, too, Geno?” he asked, all while demonstrating the iron-clad nature of his own stomach by chomping a banana-sized jalapeno pepper in two bites."
NOTE: These are some of the internet sources that list Roger Chaffee as a recipient of the NASA Exceptional Service Medal. However, Appendix A of SP-4012 NASA HISTORICAL DATA BOOK: VOLUME IV; NASA RESOURCES 1969-1978 only lists one NASA Medal, the Distinguished Service Medal, for Roger Chaffee:
I thought the history.nasa.gov website was accurate and the other websites are not. Fuller-5853 17:18, 1 February 2018 (EST)
Thanks to David Mahony for starting this profile by using the information recalled from witnessing the events of Roger's life.
Thanks to all the others who have improved this profile.
Click the Changes tab for the details of contributions by David and others.
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On 16 Jul 2014 at 15:38 GMT Lydia Vierson wrote:
Roger is 31 degrees from Rosa Parks, 28 degrees from Anne Tichborne and 22 degrees from Victoria of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland on our single family tree. Login to find your connection.