Seven of Our Heros Went to Heaven!
Commissioner Tommy Adkisson
February 6, 2003
What was to be a spectacular view of the Columbia Space Shuttle streaking across the Texas sky ended in a terrible and tragic explosion over Texas. Seven of the world's most talented human beings joined our maker in Heaven! Why they met with this fate will likely remain a mystery for a very long time if not forever.
These extraordinary individuals were certainly on the younger side of life. They were Colonel Rick Husband, 45; Dr. Kalpana Chawla, 41; Col. Ilan Ramon, 48; Dr. Laurel Salton Clark, 41; Commander William C. McCool, 41; Lt. Col. Michael P. Anderson, 43; and Dr. David M. Brown, 46. A casual review of their respective backgrounds indicates the incredible overachieving individual each was in their own right!
Colonel Husband, a former test pilot learned to fly when he was 18 and had more than 3,800 hours of flight time in more than 40 types of aircraft.
Dr. Chawla was a brilliant student, always in the top five of her class, those who knew her said. She was chosen from a field of 4,000 in 1994 by NASA to be an astronaut.
The son of a Holocaust survivor, Colonel Ramon, was the first citizen of Israel to go into space. He had 4,000 hours of flight in various aircraft and had participated in air warfare for his country.
Laurel Blair Salton Clark had conquered the sea, diving with the Navy Seals and conducting medical evacuations from submarines off Scotland. She had penetrated the air as a flight surgeon aboard the Marine Attack Squadron of the Year. Her husband and their eight year-old son Iain survive her.
Commander McCool graduated second in his 1983 class at the Naval Academy, where he ran with the cross-country track team. The Columbia mission was Commander McCool's first trip into space. He was an experienced test pilot, one of the Navy's elite airmen, and had logged more than 2,800 flight hours.
Lieutenant Colonel Michael P. Anderson earned a Bachelor of Science degree in physics and astronomy at the University of Washington, in Seattle. He earned a master's degree in physics in 1990 at Creighton University.
Dr. David M. Brown was a trapeze artist, a stilt walker, a test pilot and Medical Doctor.
These individuals came from diverse locations. Two were Texans, one was from Israel, one emigrated from India, one was from Washington, another from Wisconsin and one from Virginia.
Of most significance however, is that they paid the ultimate price to advance our great nation. This final frontier of space has allowed us to detect weapons of mass destruction, troop movements of hostile countries and an endless list of advancements unique to Americans. We will always remember these heroes, knowing that each would want America to do what it must and surely will do to continue to lead the world in the exploration of space.