Remembering Astronaunt Dick Gordon

Joe Guilbeau, humorist
Joe Guilbeau

In this column, I will outline the amazing life and career of an incredible man, Astronaut Dick Gordon

Dick Gordon was born in Seattle, Washington on October 5, 1929. He was the first of five children. His father was a machinist and his mother, Angela, was an elementary school teacher.

He was a Boy Scout and earned the rank of Star Scout. He graduated from North Kitsay High School in Poulsbo, Washington, in 1947. Then he entered the University of Washington, from where he received a Bachelor of Science degree in chemistry in 1951.

Gordon joined the United States Navy. And he received his wings as a Naval Aviator in 1953. He then attended All-Weather Flight School and Jet Transitional Training and was subsequently assigned to an all weather fighter squadron at the Naval Air Station in Jacksonville, Florida.

In 1957, he attended the United States Naval Test Pilot School at Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Maryland, and served as a flight test pilot until 1960.

During this tour of duty he did flight test work on the F-8 Crusader, the North American FJ Fury, and the A-4 Skyhawk, and he was the first test pilot for the Phantom II.

He served with Fighter squadron 121(VF-121) at the Naval Air Station Miramar, California as a flight instructor in the F4H-1 and participated in the introduction of that aircraft to the Atlantic and Pacific Fleets.

He logged more than 4,500 hours flying time with 3,500 hours of those hours in jet aircraft. He was also a student at the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, California. Additional honors include:

Navy Astronaut Wings

Bendix Trophy 1961

Godfrey L. Cabot Award 1970

NASA Exceptional Service Medal

NASA Group Achievement Award

Navy Distinguished Service Medal

Institute of Navigation Award

Two Navy Distinguished Flying Crosses

Phi Sigma Kappa Merit Award

MSC Superior Achievement Award

Rear Admiral William S. Parsons Award for Scientific and Technical Progress

Inducted into the International Space Hall of Fame

Elected into the United States Astronaut Hall of Fame

Wrote eight Technical papers on the Apollo Program

Moreover, in the 1998 HBO miniseries, "From Earth to the Moon" Gordon was played by Tom Verica. Richard Gordon Elementary School in Kingston, Washington was named after him. Gordon also worked on the design of the Space Shuttle. NASA Astronaut Richard Gordon was command module pilot of Apollo 12, the second lunar landing mission.

Gordon died on November 6, 2017 in San Marcos, California. He was 88 years old. NASA and the nation have lost one of our early space pioneers. Dick Gordon was an American hero and a true American Patriot.