Story Number: NNS140131-24Release Date: 1/31/2014 8:37:00 PM
By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Armando Gonzales, CHINFO Public Affairs
ARLINGTON, Va. (NNS) -- Former, current, and future Navy astronauts joined NASA employees and family members during a Day of Remembrance Jan. 31, at Arlington National Cemetery to honor fallen astronauts.
"Today, the NASA family joins the nation in pausing to remember the contributions of those who lost their lives trying to take our nation farther into space," said retired Marine Maj. Gen. Charles Bolden, the NASA Administrator. "They were our friends, family and colleagues, and they were American heroes who exemplified our nation's pioneering spirit and dared to risk their lives revealing the unknown. Our lives are better and our nation is stronger for their sacrifice."
The ceremony took place during the week of the anniversaries of three fatal accidents: The Apollo 1 fire, space shuttle Challenger (STS-51L) explosion and space shuttle Columbia (STS-107) accident. Five Sailors died in the line of duty during these accidents: Lt. Cmdr. Roger Chaffee, Capt. Michael Smith, Cmdr. William McCool, Capt. David Brown and Capt. Laurel Clark.
"The best way to honor their memories is to keep pushing the boundaries of space exploration so that we can bring new knowledge and new benefits to our nation and our world," said Bolden. "That is what our astronauts on the International Space Station are doing at this very moment."
"The Navy has been deeply involved in the U.S. space program since the beginning," said Capt. Kathryn Hire, an active duty Navy officer and former NASA astronaut. "From the first U.S. astronaut to fly in space, Alan Shepard in 1961, to Chris Ferguson, the commander of the 135th Space Shuttle mission in 2011, Navy astronauts contributed to many great achievements in space exploration."
The Navy continues to add to NASA's space programs by employing seven active duty astronauts and enrolling two officers in the 2013 Astronaut Class. Lt. Cmdr. Josh Cassada, from White Bear Lake, Minn., and Lt. Cmdr. Victor Glover, from Pomona, Calif., are two of the eight total members of the class training with NASA to be our nation's future space explorers and researchers. All members of the class attended the ceremony and listened attentively to the remarks given for their fallen predecessors.