by 45th Space Wing
1/29/2015 - Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla. -- Three
former space pioneers were honored during the 48th annual Apollo 1
Memorial Ceremony Jan. 27 at Launch Complex 34, Cape Canaveral Air Force
The memorial honored crew members, Command Pilot Virgil "Gus" Grissom,
Senior Pilot Edward H. White II and Pilot Roger B. Chaffee, who were
killed by a flash fire during a launch pad test of their Saturn 1B
rocket, Jan. 27, 1967.
"Throughout our nation's history, its greatest accomplishments have been
manifested by brave men and women, willing to exert the effort
necessary and overcome adversity to seize upon life-changing
opportunity," said Col. Shawn Fairhurst, 45th Space Wing vice commander.
"These three Americans chose to serve our nation, first in defense of
the freedoms we hold so dear and then later as our nation's explorers.
They embodied humanity's desire to understand who we are and our place
in the vast universe we call home."
About 140 people were in attendance at the event, including Gus
Grissom's wife, brothers, son and grandson, and Roger Chafee's daughter,
Cheryl. The family members were recognized and honored for the
sacrifices they made.
"You have our deepest sympathy and hope that you can find some solace in
knowing that we promise to continue the legacy of Gus, Ed and Roger ...
To serve proudly and honorably, finding strength from your sacrifice
and their memory ... To continue reaching for the stars," Col. Fairhurst
During the ceremony, three candles were lit, and burned through the
ceremony. At exactly 6:31 p.m., the exact moment of the fire on board
Apollo 1, the candles were extinguished and a bugler played Taps.
Dr. Sonny Witt, 45th Mission Support Group director of operations, said
it is an honor to be part of the ceremony, which honors both the heroes
and their families.
"It's the right thing to do, and the right day to do it," he said of the
event, which is held on the anniversary of the flash fire." It's their
ceremony, and we treat them with the dignity and respect that they
Along with Col. Fairhurst, Kelvin Manning, Kennedy Space Center director
and Navy Capt. John Sager, Naval Ordnance Test Unit commander, also
served as guest speakers for the event.
"Tonight, we stand here, in recognition that we are forever indebted to
the sacrifices of these men and women and their families," said Col.
Fairhurst. "With nearly 3,500 launches from this small piece of Florida,
the spirit to serve and explore lives on in the men and women of our
nation's military, NASA and our commercial space partners."