Grissom, Virgil I.

Alternative names
Dates:
Birth 1926-04-03
Death 1967-01-27
English

Biographical notes:

Virgil I. "Gus" Grissom (b. April 3, 1926-d. Jan. 27, 1967) was born in Mitchell, Indiana. An Air Force Lieutenant Colonel, received his wings in March 1951. He flew 100 combat missions in Korea in F-86s with the 334th Fighter Interceptor Squadron and, upon returning to the United States in 1952, became a jet instructor at Bryan, Texas. In August 1955, he entered the Air Force Institute of Technology at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, to study Aeronautical Engineering. He attended the Test Pilot School at Edwards Air Force Base, California, in October 1956 and returned to Wright-Patterson in May 1957 as a test pilot assigned to the fighter branch. Grissom was one of the seven Mercury astronauts selected by NASA in April 1959. He piloted the ¿Liberty Bell 7 spacecraft (the second and final suborbital Mercury test flight) on July 21, 1961. On March 23, 1965, he served as command pilot on the first manned Gemini flight, A 3-orbit mission during which the crew accomplished the first orbital trajectory modifications and the first lifting reentry of a manned spacecraft. Subsequent to this assignment, he served as backup command pilot for Gemini 6. Grissom was named to serve as command pilot for the AS-204 mission, the first 3-man Apollo flight. Grissom died in the Apollo spacecraft fire in January 1967, at NASA Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

From the description of Grissom, Virgil I., 1926-1967 (U.S. National Archives and Records Administration). naId: 10580726

Virgil Ivan (Gus) Grissom was born in 1926 in Mitchell, Indiana. He attended Purdue University and earned a Bachelor of Science degree in mechanical engineering. In 1951 he earned his pilot wings in the US Air Force and served in Korea where he flew 100 combat missions in F-86 Sabrejet fighters. Upon his return stateside he was a flight instructor at Bryan, Texas, and in 1955 he was admitted to the Air Force Institute of Technology to study aeronautical engineering. From there he went to Test Pilot School and in 1957 was assigned as test pilot in the fighter branch at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Dayton, Ohio. In 1959 Gus Grissom was selected as one of the original seven Mercury astronauts. He was backup to Alan Shepard, the first American in space with a 15-minute suborbital flight on May 5, 1961. Grissom occupied the second manned Mercury mission on July 21, 1961, also a 15-minute suborbital flight. Unlike the smooth landing and recovery for Shepard, there were problems for Grissom. The hatch blew open upon landing and the capsule, Liberty Bell 7, quickly sank in the Atlantic. Grissom managed to escape with his flight suit partially filled with ocean water and was rescued by helicopter. The capsule was not recovered until the second attempt in 1999. For his role in Project Mercury, Grissom was awarded the NASA Distinguished Service Medal. Grissom commanded the first manned flight of the 2-man Gemini program. Gemini 3 launched on March 3, 1965, and carried out the first maneuvers by a manned spacecraft in orbit. Grissom was assigned to command the first flight of the 3-man Apollo program. Tragically, the crew, Gus Grissom, Edward White II, and Roger Chaffee, died in a fire during a launch pad test on January 27, 1967. Grissom left a wife and two children, and was buried in Arlington National Cemetery.

From the description of Project Mercury stamps, first day of issue, autographed by Gus Grissom 1962. (Denver Museum of Nature & Science). WorldCat record id: 69957592

Virgil Ivan (Gus) Grissom was born in 1926 in Mitchell, Indiana. He attended Purdue University and earned a Bachelor of Science degree in mechanical engineering. In 1951 he earned his pilot wings in the US Air Force and served in Korea where he flew 100 combat missions in F-86 Sabrejet fighters. Upon his return stateside he was a flight instructor at Bryan, Texas, and in 1955 he was admitted to the Air Force Institute of Technology to study aeronautical engineering. From there he went to Test Pilot School and in 1957 was assigned as test pilot in the fighter branch at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Dayton, Ohio.

In 1959 Gus Grissom was selected as one of the original seven Mercury astronauts. He was backup to Alan Shepard, the first American in space with a 15-minute suborbital flight on May 5, 1961. Grissom occupied the second manned Mercury mission on July 21, 1961, also a 15-minute suborbital flight. Unlike the smooth landing and recovery for Shepard, there were problems for Grissom. The hatch blew open upon landing and the capsule, Liberty Bell 7, quickly sank in the Atlantic. Grissom managed to escape with his flight suit partially filled with ocean water and was rescued by helicopter. The capsule was not recovered until the second attempt in 1999. For his role in Project Mercury, Grissom was awarded the NASA Distinguished Service Medal.

Grissom commanded the first manned flight of the 2-man Gemini program. Gemini 3 launched on March 3, 1965, and carried out the first maneuvers by a manned spacecraft in orbit. Grissom was assigned to command the first flight of the 3-man Apollo program. Tragically, the crew, Gus Grissom, Edward White II, and Roger Chaffee, died in a fire during a launch pad test on January 27, 1967. Grissom left a wife and two children, and was buried in Arlington National Cemetery.

From the guide to the Project Mercury stamps, first day of issue, autographed by Gus Grissom, 1962, (Denver Museum of Nature & Science, )

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