Swigert in April 1970
|Member-elect of the |
U.S. House of Representatives
from Colorado's 6th district
Died before taking office
|Preceded by||Constituency established|
|Succeeded by||Daniel Schaefer|
|Born||August 30, 1931|
Denver, Colorado, U.S.
|Died||December 27, 1982 (aged 51)|
Washington D.C., U.S.
|Resting place||Mount Olivet Cemetery,|
Wheat Ridge, Colorado
|Parents||John L. Swigert, M.D.|
|Alma mater||University of Colorado,|
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, M.S. 1965
University of Hartford,
|Occupation||Fighter pilot, test pilot|
|Branch/service||U.S. Air Force (1953–1956)|
|Years of service||1953–1965|
|Occupation||Fighter pilot, test pilot|
Time in space
|5d 22h 54m|
|Selection||1966 NASA Group 5|
|Retirement||August 1977 |
John Leonard Swigert Jr. (August 30, 1931 – December 27, 1982) was an American test pilot, mechanical and aerospace engineer, United States Air Force pilot, and NASA astronaut. He was one of twenty-four astronauts who have flown to the Moon.
Before joining NASA in 1966, Swigert was a civilian test pilot and fighter pilot in the Air National Guard. After leaving NASA, he was elected to Congress from Colorado's new 6th district, but died before being sworn in.
John Leonard Swigert Jr. was born on August 30, 1931 in Denver, Colorado to parents John Leonard Sr. and Virginia Swigert. Swigert's father was an ophthalmologist. At the age of 14, he became fascinated by aviation. While he would have been content just watching planes take off from nearby Combs Field, young Jack became determined to do more than be a spectator. He took on a newspaper route to earn money for flying lessons, and by age 16 he was a licensed private pilot. He attended Blessed Sacrament School, Regis Jesuit High School, and East High School, from which he graduated in 1949.
Swigert received a Bachelor of Science degree in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Colorado in 1953, where he also played football for the Buffaloes. He later earned a Master of Science degree in Aerospace Engineering from the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (Hartford campus) in 1965, and a Master of Business Administration degree from the University of Hartford in 1967; and was presented an Honorary Doctorate of Science degree from American International College in 1970, and an Honorary Doctorate of Laws degree from Western State University in 1970, and an Honorary Doctorate of Science from Western Michigan University in 1970.
Following his graduation from Colorado in 1953, Swigert joined the U.S. Air Force. Upon graduation from the Pilot Training Program and Gunnery School at Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada, he was assigned as a fighter pilot in Japan and Korea. In 1953, he survived his plane crashing into a radar unit on a Korean airstrip.
After completing his tour of active duty in the Air Force, he served as a jet fighter pilot with the Massachusetts (1957–1960) and Connecticut Air National Guard (1960–1965). Swigert held a position as engineering test pilot for North American Aviation before joining NASA. He was previously an engineering test pilot for Pratt & Whitney, from 1957 to 1964.
After unsuccessfully applying for NASA's second and third astronaut selections, Swigert was accepted into the NASA Astronaut Corps as part of NASA Astronaut Group 5 in April 1966. Swigert became a specialist on the Apollo command module: he was one of the few astronauts who requested to be command module pilots.
Swigert was one of three astronauts aboard the Apollo 13 Moon mission launched April 11, 1970. Originally part of the backup crew for the mission, he was assigned to the mission three days before launch, replacing astronaut Ken Mattingly. The prime crew had been exposed to German Measles (the rubella virus) from Charles Duke and, because Mattingly had no immunity to the disease, NASA did not want to risk his falling ill during critical phases of the flight.
The mission was the third lunar-landing attempt, but was aborted after the rupture of an oxygen tank in the spacecraft's service module. Swigert was the astronaut who made the dramatic announcement, "Houston, we've had a problem here". The statement was then repeated by Commander of the flight Jim Lovell. Swigert, along with fellow astronauts Lovell and Fred Haise, traveled around the Moon and returned safely to Earth on April 17 after about 5 days and 23 hours, and received the Presidential Medal of Freedom the next day.
Apollo–Soyuz Test Project
Swigert eventually left NASA and the committee in August 1977 to enter politics. He ran for the U.S. Senate in 1978, but was soundly defeated in the Republican primary in September by congressman Bill Armstrong. In 1979, Swigert became vice president of B.D.M. Corporation in Golden. He left in 1981 to join International Gold and Minerals Limited as vice president for financial and corporate affairs.
In February 1982, Swigert left International Gold and Minerals Limited to run for U.S. Congress in the new 6th district as a Republican. On November 2, 1982, he won the seat with 64% of the popular vote.
Jack Swigert before his death, about life and God.
In 1982, during his political campaign, Swigert developed a malignant tumor in his right nasal passage. He underwent surgery, but the cancer spread to his bone marrow and lungs. On December 19, seven weeks after the election, he was airlifted from his home in Littleton to Georgetown University Hospital in Washington, D.C., and died of respiratory failure at its Lombardi Cancer Center on December 27, seven days before the beginning of his congressional term. He was 51. He is buried in Mount Olivet Cemetery in Wheat Ridge, Colorado.
Swigert was a member of numerous organizations. He was a fellow of the American Astronautical Society; associate fellow of the Society of Experimental Test Pilots and the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics; and member of the Quiet Birdmen, Phi Gamma Delta, Pi Tau Sigma, and Sigma Tau.
Awards and honors
- American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) Octave Chanute Award for 1966 (for his participation in demonstrating the Rogallo Wing as a feasible land landing system for returning space vehicles and astronauts)
- Presidential Medal of Freedom, 1970
- NASA Distinguished Service Medal
- American Astronautical Society Flight Achievement Award, 1970
- City of New York City Gold Medal, 1970
- City of Houston Medal for Valor, 1970
- City of Chicago Gold Medal in 1970
- University of Colorado-Boulder's Distinguished Engineering Alumnus Award in 1970
- Doctor of Science (Hon.) degree from Western Michigan University, 1970
- AIAA Haley Astronautics Award, 1971
- Antonian Gold Medal, 1972.
- In 1983, Swigert was inducted into the International Space Hall of Fame.
- In 1988, Jack Swigert was nominated and inducted into the Colorado Aviation Hall of Fame.
- In 1995, Swigert was portrayed by Kevin Bacon in Ron Howard's film Apollo 13.
- In 1997, a statue of Swigert made by George and Mark Lundeen was placed on display in the U.S. Capitol Building as one of two statues given by the state of Colorado to the National Statuary Hall Collection. As of December 2008 the statue is on display in Emancipation Hall in the United States Capitol Visitor Center. A duplicate statue is currently on display at Denver International Airport.
- In 1997, Jack Swigert was posthumously inducted into the U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame.
- In September 2003, John L. Swigert Jr. was elected to the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute Alumni Hall of Fame.
- In 2004, the Space Foundation launched the John L. "Jack" Swigert Jr. Award for Space Exploration, which is presented annually to an individual, group or organization that has made a significant contribution to space exploration. Based in Colorado Springs, Colorado, the Space Foundation was founded in 1983 in part to honor the memory and accomplishments of Swigert.
- On August 18, 2009, the Space Foundation and Colorado Springs District 11 partnered to open the Jack Swigert Aerospace Academy.
- List of members-elect of the United States House of Representatives who never took their seats
- List of spaceflight records
- The Astronaut Monument
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