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Author Topic:   NASA astronauts with combat experience
issman1
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Posts: 892
From: UK
Registered: Apr 2005

posted 04-04-2006 07:27 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for issman1     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I was intrigued to know that some members of NASA's 2004 astronaut class are veterans of the ongoing Afghanistan and Iraq wars.

I was curious as to whether there are any past or present astronauts involved in "combat operations" in either of those countries. I did read that Kay Hire was recalled by the US Navy in 2002, albeit briefly.

ASCAN1984
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Posts: 1012
From: County Down, Nothern Ireland
Registered: Feb 2002

posted 04-04-2006 07:41 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for ASCAN1984   Click Here to Email ASCAN1984     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
In Chris Cassidy's NASA biography it says he was in the war in Afghanistan. Looking at his bio he is a real American hero.

yeknom-ecaps
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Posts: 463
From: Northville MI USA
Registered: Aug 2005

posted 04-04-2006 08:51 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for yeknom-ecaps   Click Here to Email yeknom-ecaps     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Joe Kittenger was not only a Vietnam pilot but was also a POW.

micropooz
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Posts: 1252
From: Washington, DC, USA
Registered: Apr 2003

posted 04-04-2006 11:09 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for micropooz   Click Here to Email micropooz     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
X-15 astronauts Bob White and Bob Rushworth both did tours in VietNam after their Edwards tours were over.

East-Frisian
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Posts: 404
From: Germany
Registered: Apr 2005

posted 04-04-2006 01:28 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for East-Frisian     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
There were other astronauts, who flew combat missions in Southeast Asia as Guy Gardner, Dick Scobee or in Korea as Bill Pogue, or in World War II as John Glenn.

albatron
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Posts: 2139
From: Stuart, Florida, USA
Registered: Jun 2000

posted 04-04-2006 01:50 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for albatron   Click Here to Email albatron     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Bob White was also a fighter pilot stationed in England at the end of WWII - Al White was int he same squadron. Bob was shot down on a mission and spent a short time as a German POW as well.

Ron Evans flew in Viet Nam, as did Paul Weitz.

albatron
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Posts: 2139
From: Stuart, Florida, USA
Registered: Jun 2000

posted 04-04-2006 01:51 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for albatron   Click Here to Email albatron     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Glenn flew as an exchange pilot with the USAF in Korea also.

micropooz
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Posts: 1252
From: Washington, DC, USA
Registered: Apr 2003

posted 04-04-2006 04:06 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for micropooz   Click Here to Email micropooz     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Pete Knight did a tour in Viet Nam too.

Paul78zephyr
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Posts: 348
From: Hudson, MA
Registered: Jul 2005

posted 09-22-2013 09:12 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Paul78zephyr     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
What Mercury, Gemini or Apollo astronauts had combat experience?
  • Grissom
  • Glenn
  • Armstrong
  • Aldrin
  • Evans
Others? Comments?

Editor's note: Threads merged.

David C
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Posts: 105
From: Pasadena
Registered: Apr 2012

posted 09-22-2013 09:12 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for David C     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Are you presuming just flying combat experience?
  • Slayton?
Non-flying:
  • Young
  • Stafford
  • Brand?
  • Irwin?
Quite a few I think.

randy
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Posts: 1318
From: West Jordan, Utah USA
Registered: Dec 1999

posted 09-23-2013 12:15 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for randy   Click Here to Email randy     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Al Shepard was a carrier pilot in the Navy, Gordo Cooper was in the Air Force.

moorouge
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Posts: 1550
From: U.K.
Registered: Jul 2009

posted 09-23-2013 01:03 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for moorouge   Click Here to Email moorouge     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Broadening out a little — how many of those with combat experience can be classified as 'aces'? (Definition of 'ace' - one with five or more combat kills.)

David C
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Posts: 105
From: Pasadena
Registered: Apr 2012

posted 09-23-2013 09:37 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for David C     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by randy:
Al Shepard was a carrier pilot in the Navy, Gordo Cooper was in the Air Force.
I'm not too sure of your point here, lots of astronauts were either carrier pilots or in the Air Force.

Robert Pearlman
Editor

Posts: 27764
From: Houston, TX
Registered: Nov 1999

posted 09-23-2013 09:52 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Buzz Aldrin was the first to capture on film a MiG pilot bailing out of his jet, after having shot down the MiG-15.
On December 26, 1951, then-Lieutenant Buzz Aldrin arrived in Seoul, Korea. A recent graduate of West Point, Aldrin had become a fighter pilot in the Air Force. Aldrin was assigned to the 51st Fighter Wing, and flew 66 missions in the F-86 Sabre, shooting down two MIG-15s and earning the Distinguished Flying Cross.

Flying with several comrades in the 16th Squadron, five miles south of the Yalu River on May 14, 1952, Aldrin spotted two planes below. With his wingman at his side, Aldrin dove at the second plane and opened fire. As bullets slammed into the enemy MIG and its engine caught fire, the pilot ejected and began drifting down to earth. While Aldrin's first kill lacked the thrill of a dogfight or intensive maneuvers, it marked a historical moment. The camera attached to his gun trigger snapped photos of the ejection sequence, creating the first photos of the war to show a pilot bailing out of his plane. The photos would appear the next week in LIFE magazine.

onesmallstep
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Posts: 571
From: Staten Island, New York USA
Registered: Nov 2007

posted 09-23-2013 11:04 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for onesmallstep   Click Here to Email onesmallstep     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Then-Maj. John H. Glenn, Jr. shot down three MiG-15s while on an exchange posting with an Air Force F-86 Sabre squadron during the Korean War. This, I think, is the closest any future astronaut came to becoming an 'ace'. Like Aldrin's two victories, they came just before the Korean armistice in July 1953.

Ironically, Glenn's first posting in Korea was with a Marine unit flying the F9F Panther, primarily a ground-attack plane supporting Marine troops on the ground. One of his wingmen was baseball legend Ted Williams, serving a reserve tour as a Marine pilot.

alanh_7
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Posts: 919
From: Ajax, Ontario, Canada
Registered: Apr 2008

posted 09-23-2013 11:24 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for alanh_7   Click Here to Email alanh_7     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I don't think there were any astronaut "ACES" (five kills). Since Korea the very nature of aerial combat has made the so called magic number very difficult to achieve.

Keep in mind, during Viet Nam with all the combat, five US crewmembers achieved that status.

  • Randy Duke Cunningham Pilot USN 5 kills
  • Willie Driscoll Rio USN 5 Kills
  • Steve Ritchie Pilot USAF 5 kills
  • Jeff Feinstein RIO USAF
  • Chuck DeBellevue USAF Rio 6 kills
I know Charlie Bolden flew strike missions out of Nam Phong air based Thailand with VMA 533 flying A-6 Intruders.

I think Robert "Hoot" Gibson flew F-4 Phantoms on CAP missions with VF-111 "The Sundowners" while on Yankee station very late in the war with the USS Coral Sea.

randy
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Posts: 1318
From: West Jordan, Utah USA
Registered: Dec 1999

posted 09-23-2013 11:34 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for randy   Click Here to Email randy     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by David C:
I'm not too sure of your point here, lots of astronauts were either carrier pilots or in the Air Force.
I assumed they had combat experience.

onesmallstep
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Posts: 571
From: Staten Island, New York USA
Registered: Nov 2007

posted 09-23-2013 11:37 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for onesmallstep   Click Here to Email onesmallstep     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by alanh_7:
Jeff Feinstein RIO USAF
Just to clarify: Feinstein's total was 5 kills, and his position, like DeBellevue's, was actually 'Weapon Systems Officer', as opposed to the Navy RIO (Radar Intercept Officer).

A link to a brief interview with Aldrin while serving with the 51st FIW in Korea can be found at here from our friends at Spacecraft Films. Click on 'Recent Videos.'

alanh_7
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Posts: 919
From: Ajax, Ontario, Canada
Registered: Apr 2008

posted 09-23-2013 02:25 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for alanh_7   Click Here to Email alanh_7     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Regarding Jeff Feinstein, he was indeed involved in the shoot down of five enemy aircraft (typo emission on my part in my original posting).

The term RIO is used for the Navy while Air Force used the term Weapons System Officer. I have also heard pilots use the term GIB (Guy In Back) when referring to their back seater in the F-4.

onesmallstep
Member

Posts: 571
From: Staten Island, New York USA
Registered: Nov 2007

posted 09-23-2013 02:39 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for onesmallstep   Click Here to Email onesmallstep     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
And the Electronic Warfare Officers serving as backseaters during Vietnam-era 'Wild Weasel' enemy defense-suppression missions were nicknamed 'Bear.'

Their unofficial motto, shown on a patch depicting a weasel, was 'YGBSM' (You Gotta Be S****** Me), voiced by a B-52 bomber EWO when the Weasel mission was described to him. Brave crews all.

ejectr
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Posts: 1502
From: Brimfield, MA
Registered: Mar 2002

posted 09-23-2013 07:51 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for ejectr   Click Here to Email ejectr     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
And the stink of the whole thing was... Navy pilots that flew off carriers in Vietnam and B-52 pilots flying out of Guam were not considered Vietnam veterans per the VA definition. Sen. John McCain was considered a Vietnam-era veteran because he was not "in country."

Needless to say, Congress just recently changed the law and stopped this foolishness.

All times are CT (US)

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