Roger Chaffee

Roger Bruce Chaffee (1935 - 1967)

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LCDR Roger Bruce Chaffee
Born in Grand Rapids, Kent, Michigan, United Statesmap
Ancestors ancestors
Husband of [private wife (1930s - unknown)]
Father of [private daughter (1950s - unknown)] and [private son (1960s - unknown)]
Died in Cape Kennedy, Florida, USAmap
Profile last modified | Created 19 Mar 2013
This page has been accessed 1,344 times.

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.

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The 8th great grandfather of Roger was Thomas Chaffe who migrated to New England during the Puritan Great Migration and lived in several areas of Massachusetts:

Hingham (1635),
Nantusket now called Hull (1642),
Rehoboth (1660) which split off as Swansea.
Descendant of PGM migrant Thomas Chaffe.
Three more generations lived in Rehoboth before Roger's ancestors migrated to Connecticut then New York. Roger's great grandfather, Leonard Almon Chaffee, migrated from his birthplace, New York, stopping in Indiana, the place he first married, and on to Michigan where he passed away. However, two generations list no locations but in both cases their father passed away in the same location as their son was born: Therefore their residences were most likely New York for Almon and Michigan for Harland Charles.

Roger Bruce Chaffee, son of Donald Chaffee and Blanch Mosher was born 15 Feb 1935. Roger's father, Donald Chaffee, was a pilot and undoubtedly shared his love of flying with his son.[1][2][3]

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.[1]

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.[1]

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.[1]

Two days later, he married Martha in Oklahoma City. Roger and Martha had two children: a daughter, Sheryl Lyn, and a son, Stephen.[1][4]

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.[1]

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.[5]

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.[1]

Roger was named to the astronaut corps with thirteen other pilots on 18 October 1963. They then began rigorous training in preparation for space.[1]

On February 1, 1966, Chaffee was promoted to Lieutenant Commander.[5]

In 1966, the crew for the Apollo 1 mission was announced and everything that Roger Chaffee had been working toward would come to fruition.[1]

Roger Chaffee, Gus Grissom and Edward White were tragically killed 27 Jan 1967, while performing pre-launch tests in the Apollo 1 space capsule.[1][2][6]

Lieutenant Commander Chaffee was buried at Arlington National Cemetery.[7]

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.[8]

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.[9]

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.[10]

On December 17, 1997, President Bill Clinton presented Roger Chaffee with the Congressional Space Medal of Honor (posthumously) [11]
Space Medal
of Honor

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:[12]

"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."

Research Notes

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:

Wikipedia page for Roger B Chaffee lists Category:NASA Exceptional Service Medal at the bottom of the page. That category does not list Roger.
[1] nasa.wikia page also links to a category than just links back to Roger's page. page for Roger B Chaffee lists NASA Exceptional Service Medal under Awards and Honors.
nasa.wikia page for NASA Exceptional Service Medal has Roger B chaffee (posthumously) listed under Notable recipients.

I thought the website was accurate and the other websites are not. Fuller-5853 17:18, 1 February 2018 (EST)


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 1.7 1.8 1.9 White, Mary C. "Detailed Biographies of Apollo I Crew - Roger Chaffee at
  2. 2.0 2.1 Roger Bruce Chaffee on Find A Grave: Memorial #186 has photo of gravestone. Burial at Arlington National Cemetery, Arlington, Arlington, Virginia, USA.
  3. "United States Census, 1940," database with images, FamilySearch Image of 1940 US Census: listing Roger B at 5 on line 5 as grandson of the HOH, Harland C. Chaffee. accessed 4 September 2016), Michigan > Montcalm > Greenville City, Greenville, Ward 1 > 59-18 Greenville City Ward 1 bounded by (N) Washington; (E) city limits; (S) city limits; (W) city limits > image 5 of 34; citing Sixteenth Census of the United States, 1940, NARA digital publication T627. Records of the Bureau of the Census, 1790 - 2007, RG 29. Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, 2012.
  4. "Texas Birth Index, 1903-1997," database, FamilySearch VDP1-BVH accessed 5 December 2014; Roger Bruce Chaffee in entry for Sheryl Lyn Chaffee, 17 Nov 1958; from "Texas Birth Index, 1903-1997," database and images, Ancestry's website: 2005; citing Texas Department of State Health Services. Indexed record only. No image available
  5. 5.0 5.1 Wikipedia: Roger B Chaffee
  6. "Florida Death Index, 1877-1998," database, FamilySearch VV8X-SCJ accessed 25 December 2014; Roger Bruce Chaffee, Jan 1967; from "Florida Death Index, 1877-1998," index, Ancestry's website; citing vol. 2905, certificate number 230, Florida Department of Health, Office of Vital Records, Jacksonville. Indexed record only No image.
  7. Roger B. Chaffee. The Robinson Library.
  8. Roger B Chaffee inducted into [International Space Hall of Fame]
  9. AIR ZOO: Lt. Cdr. Roger B. Chaffee, USN, Retired
  10. United States Astronaut Hall of Fame on Wikipedia
  11. ROGER B. CHAFFEE (LIEUTENANT COMMANDER, USN) National Aeronautics and Space Administration. Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center.
  12. America Space Evans, Ben. " Remembering the Life and Legacy of Roger Chaffee on His 80th Birthday.

See also:


Thanks to David Mahony for starting this profile by using the information recalled from witnessing the events of Roger's life.

Thanks to .Project: Worldwide Disasters and Category: Collaborative Profile of the Week for all the improvements made to the profiles of the Apollo 1 Team the week of 29 Aug, 2016.

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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No known carriers of Roger's Y-chromosome or his mother's mitochondrial DNA have taken yDNA or mtDNA tests and no close relatives have taken a 23andMe, AncestryDNA, or Family Tree DNA "Family Finder" test.

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On 16 Jul 2014 at 15:38 GMT Lydia Vierson wrote:

Roger is a direct descendant of

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.

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