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  Physician William Douglas, suit tech Joe Schmitt

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Author Topic:   Physician William Douglas, suit tech Joe Schmitt

Posts: 30
From: Orlando, Florida
Registered: Oct 2005

posted 03-27-2006 04:14 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Brock   Click Here to Email Brock     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
One of the things that is very clear from the the incredible Spacecraft Films Mercury set is that Dr. Douglas and Joe Schmitt had some of the best jobs that two people could ever have. It seems that Dr. Douglas is walking out of Hangar S with Shepard, Grissom, Glenn and Carpenter on the mornings of their flights and then he seems to drop out of the picture. Did he leave the space program during Mercury or did he just take another posting?

I was also wondering if anyone knew how Joe Schmitt came to be a suit technician with NASA. I saw that he is going to be part of a panel in Houston and so if anyone has a chance to talk to him please tell him to write his memoirs because that would be a great story.

Michael Cassutt

Posts: 343
From: Studio City CA USA
Registered: Mar 2005

posted 03-27-2006 04:23 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Michael Cassutt   Click Here to Email Michael Cassutt     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Douglas was detailed to NASA by the Air Force for three years, an assignment that expired around spring 1962. Because of his disagreements with various medical colleagues over Deke Slayton's grounding (Douglas thought it was unjustified), an extension wasn't offered to him, nor did he want one.

Matt T

Posts: 1358
From: Chester, Cheshire, UK
Registered: May 2001

posted 03-28-2006 12:27 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Matt T   Click Here to Email Matt T     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Joe Schmitt's oral history has what you're interested in.


Posts: 198
From: Woodbridge, VA, USA
Registered: Nov 2000

posted 03-29-2006 12:54 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for astroborg   Click Here to Email astroborg     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The oral history is very interesting: Mr. Schmitt relates his experience with Norman Rockwell regarding his painting of Grissom and Young suiting up, and his appearance on "What's My Line", a TV show broadcast just after Cooper's Mercury mission completed. The entire transcript from the show is included.


Posts: 1064
From: Lincolnshire IL USA
Registered: Aug 2000

posted 06-30-2012 08:11 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for DChudwin   Click Here to Email DChudwin     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I was at the Apollo 11 launch, covering it as a 19 year old college journalist. One of the greatest parts of that experience was to be an eyewitness to the Apollo 11 crew walkout on the morning of July 16, 1969. I took several pictures and one shows Collins and Aldrin followed by two space suit technicians clad in white uniforms.

I was not sure of the identity of the two suit techs so I brought a copy of the photo to Spacefest 4. I showed it to Al Rochford, the veteran NASA suit tech who had been with NASA since Project Mercury (he was lead suit tech for Schirra's flight).

He identified one tech as Joe Schmitt, the legendary NASA suit tech who prepared Alan Shepard for the first U.S. manned spaceflight. Rochford was unsure about the identity of the other tech, so while I was standing there he whips out his cell phone and calls Joe Schmitt directly! I was suprised that Schmitt was still alive, let alone answering my question (the other Apollo 11 tech was Ron Woods).

I mailed two copies of the photo to Joe Schmitt and, as requested, received an autographed one back today along with a nice handwritten note. Schmitt wrote that he is 96, and he also thanked me for the photo.

It was great to hear from him and to solve the identities of the techs on my Apollo 11 photo.


Posts: 1513
From: Smithfield, Me, USA
Registered: Mar 2005

posted 06-30-2012 09:45 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for MCroft04   Click Here to Email MCroft04     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Nice story Dave. I had the pleasure to meet Joe 7 or 8 years ago and have him sign my copy of the book "Unsung Heroes". What a great guy!

E2M Lem Man

Posts: 846
From: Los Angeles CA. USA
Registered: Jan 2005

posted 07-02-2012 12:05 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for E2M Lem Man   Click Here to Email E2M Lem Man     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I met Bill and Mariwade Douglas in 1984, during my years working at the California Science center. Bill was working at McDonnell-Douglas in Huntington Beach and Mariwade was a docent at the center.

He could have stayed on at NASA — like Shorty Powers and others from the Air Force, but he felt that NASA administration ignored his diagnosis of Slayton's heart condition in favor of a "Political" decision.

As he had the chance to move on, he went back in complete his time until retirement... and become the leading aeromedical physician.

The Mercury 7 never forgot that he stood up for Deke. They considered Bill one of them, and he was on their scholarship board.

All times are CT (US)

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