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  AMF/National Space Mirror Dedication

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Author Topic:   AMF/National Space Mirror Dedication
Ken Havekotte
Member

Posts: 1823
From: Merritt Island, Florida, Brevard
Registered: Mar 2001

posted 10-15-2003 03:51 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Ken Havekotte   Click Here to Email Ken Havekotte     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The official National Space Mirror Memorial Dedication Ceremony honoring the heroic Columbia astronauts of Mission STS-107 is planned for Oct. 28 at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex. I'll be there and if any CS.com members along with any other space enthusiasts want to get together later on in the day, let me know. My schedule is free for most of the afternoon hours.

"The grief in our hearts will diminish in time, but it will never go away and we will never forget. Hail Rick, Willy, KC, Mike, Laurel, Dave and Ilan, Hail, Columbia." --
Quote from Robert Crippen, Columbia's first pilot, Memorial Service at Kennedy Space Center on February 10, 2003.

FFrench
Member

Posts: 3093
From: San Diego
Registered: Feb 2002

posted 10-15-2003 04:42 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for FFrench     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I was pleased to see that the Foundation amended their rules to allow Ramon, a non-NASA astronaut, to be added to the mirror, just like they amended their rules in the past regarding Robert Lawrence, Christa McAuliffe and Sonny Carter. What a shame (and, to be frank, an insult to his memory) that they still refuse to do the same for NASA astronaut Ed Givens.

ColinBurgess
Member

Posts: 1567
From: Sydney, Australia
Registered: Sep 2003

posted 10-15-2003 06:21 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for ColinBurgess   Click Here to Email ColinBurgess     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Francis, thank you for your thoughts on honouring Ed Givens, and I totally agree.

Ed was an astronaut in training, and died in a tragic car accident on a wet, slippery road. I have told the full story of this accident in "Fallen Astronauts" through the recollections of one of the men in the car with Ed that night, and it was just a simple accident with no alcohol involved.

In the past, the AMF has been adamant that Givens was off duty when he died, yet in Brian O'Leary's book, O'Leary was hauled over the coals one time for being absent without permission, and Shepard told him that an astronaut was on duty 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Does anyone else out there believe that a NASA astronaut is ever off duty?

I know through writing this book what pain Givens's exclusion from this memorial has caused his children, who were not even invited to its opening.

I certainly applaud putting the crew of Columbia on there, but with exceptions being made in the past, as Francis has mentioned, why is the only training NASA astronaut to have died in the service of NASA and his country still excluded? It is a very pernicious, miserable and hurtful decision that this man has never been recognised by the AMF, or by NASA, and yet this is a man who could very easily have walked on the moon.

I know from discussing this matter with them that several of Givens's astronaut colleagues are outraged that his name is not honoured in this way. It would have been nice to have seen an eighth named inscribed on the Mirror, yet once again NASA astronaut Ed Givens has been overlooked.

FFrench
Member

Posts: 3093
From: San Diego
Registered: Feb 2002

posted 10-15-2003 06:26 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for FFrench     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Colin, thanks for filling in the details - it is certainly true that some Apollo astronauts are planning to take the Foundation to task for this omission.

On the question of being "off-duty" - it's very questionable whether he was off duty at that moment, as he was driving for the purpose of attending an assemblage of aerospace pilots, an event that Gordon Cooper also attended, and it can hardly be imagined that he was not doing this as a NASA astronaut.

Ken Havekotte
Member

Posts: 1823
From: Merritt Island, Florida, Brevard
Registered: Mar 2001

posted 10-16-2003 12:58 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Ken Havekotte   Click Here to Email Ken Havekotte     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The criterion for selecting astronauts for official AMF recognition -- rather military, NASA or otherwise -- has been, and still is, a continuous debate. Even with various administrations of the AMF, after it was formed more than a decade ago, I've had many informal meetings and discussions with the foundation and other organizations debating this very same topic. Givens is another example, but there are others completely overlooked.

Once Adams, Lawrence and Carter were included on the space mirror memorial, this new "admission" policy, if you want to call it that, opened up a whole new decision-making arena. One of NASA's chief research pilots, Joe Walker, was killed in the line of duty years later after unofficially achieving astronaut-status while flying the X-15 rocketplane beforehand. Another project test pilot, civilian John McKay, eventually lost his life after he sustained injuries earlier from an X-15 landing accident. Are they included on the memorial, No! As you can see, where does it stop?

Givens, on the other hand, was coming back from a party with Air Force buddies Frank Dellatora and Bill Hall. His Volkswagen, near Pearland -- about ten miles west of the Houston space center -- had ran off the road from probably taken a turn too fast. Slayton remarked that Givens, a Group 3 astronaut, was on his list to fly as an early Apollo Command Module pilot if he had lived. At any rate, the memorial service planned for later in the month will honor the Columbia crew, and I for one, will honor those fallen space explorers, even though I don't always support the Foundation's direction and policies. Overall, though, the AMF continues to have my support and long-turn friendship.

FFrench
Member

Posts: 3093
From: San Diego
Registered: Feb 2002

posted 10-16-2003 02:23 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for FFrench     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I agree with you, Ken, there has to be a line drawn somewhere - but as the only training NASA astronaut who was killed to be still missing from the memorial, this one should be a no-brainer.

And I think that calling a meeting of the order of the Quiet Birdmen, a fraternal organization of air force pilots and former officers (which included some of the country's best aviators and astronauts) a "party" is an oversimplification.

I agree, however, that the AMF is on the whole a worthy and wonderful tribute, and I am sure that the thoughts of those of us who read this list will be with you on the day of the dedication, honoring the crew of STS-107.

chet
Member

Posts: 1246
From: Beverly Hills, Calif.
Registered: Nov 2000

posted 10-16-2003 02:51 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for chet   Click Here to Email chet     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Quite simply, if Sonny Carter is included, Ed Givens should be too. But if inclusion is based on a person being on board an active space flight, or being in ACTIVE training at the time of their death, neither Givens OR Carter should qualify.

The problem here is either one of unclear requirements for inclusion, or those requirements not being properly adhered to. In either case, someone has some explaining to do.

ColinBurgess
Member

Posts: 1567
From: Sydney, Australia
Registered: Sep 2003

posted 10-16-2003 06:38 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for ColinBurgess   Click Here to Email ColinBurgess     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Just to clarify a few points: Ed Givens left that meeting of the Quiet Birdmen quite early, as he had a scheduled early-morning appointment at MSC (with, I believe, Deke Slayton). As a witness attested, he was not seen drinking alcohol at the function, and Givens said this was because he had to get up early the next day.

The two Air Force reservists were not "buddies" (and in fact the misspelling of Fran Dellorto's name points me straight to the source of your information). These two men were there independently, and when they heard Givens was driving home early they asked if they could catch a lift back to their barracks, which required a small deviation from his normal route, as they also had to get up early for some airplane training. He kindly obliged, and the surviving passenger said Givens was driving carefully because of the conditions.

This same kindness, a deviation on the way home on a wet, unfamiliar and unlit road, and an unseen ditch on a treacherous bend where numerous other accidents had occurred, cost him his life.

Givens had been involved in extensive ongoing training with the Astronaut Maneuvering Unit (AMU) that he had helped to develop, both as an Air Force astronaut candidate and a NASA astronaut. The timing of his selection by NASA meant he could not fly a Gemini mission, with all the crews selected, but he was heavily involved in working with astronauts training for their own EVA.

I used to work with an airline, and even though we had R&R time in slip ports, our airline considered us to be on duty with them 24/7 - just as Chief Astronaut Alan Shepard told Brian O'Leary in no uncertain terms. I can see no distinction between this, and the 24/7 duties of an astronaut in the late 60s and beyond.

I know a lot of pressure was applied to get Bob Lawrence's name on that Mirror, and I have no problem with that. He, like Givens, was also an Air Force astronaut candidate (who qualified for AF astronaut status at the Aerospace Research Pilots School - which, incidentally, Givens helped set up), but while I am pleased to see Lawrence's name up there, I once again ask why Givens is not similarly honoured? Who actually came closer to flying into space for NASA, and for their nation?

Lawrence's family can visit KSC with pride and see his name on the Mirror. However, ask Cathrine, Diane and Ed Givens Jr., and the grandchildren of this man - this NASA astronaut - if they can do the same. The answer is no, and this still causes heartbreak for them, as it means their father is not considered to have given his life for his country in the midst of the Space Race, while others with lesser claims are up there.

As you so rightly point out, the goalposts keep shifting in order to serve the prevailing winds of PC, or whatever seems to suit or influence the AMF at the time.

Matt T
Member

Posts: 1356
From: Chester, Cheshire, UK
Registered: May 2001

posted 10-16-2003 07:04 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Matt T   Click Here to Email Matt T     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I've posted about this subject before so I'll simply repeat that I think it is wrong that Givens' name is not on the memorial.

Looking at the Foundation's policies and history it becomes clear that there is a precedent (indeed more than one) for bending of the criteria for inclusion on the Memorial. Online articles record the Foundation's strong opposition to the inclusion of Lawrence, an opposition that was eventually withdrawn when the Lawrence family suggested (rightly or wrongly) that their was a racist basis to the Foundation's objection.

Sonny Carter's inclusion appears to be the result of fairly blatant NASA 'insider politics'. It appears that the Givens' family are excluded simply because they lack a NASA friend in high places.

Ultimately the AMF erected the memorial and continue to raise money to fund it. It is their monument (not ours) and they are therefore entitled to administrate it any way they choose.

Anyone got any ideas how we could change their minds?

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