Three Become Two

I was saddened to learn of the death of pioneering astronaut Wally Schirra on Thursday. The fifth American in space and the third in orbit, he was the only man to fly in the Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo programs.

He was also a friend of my late Uncle Larry. I think they met at the Naval Test Pilot School at Patuxent River, Maryland. Wally went to NASA and Larry went to the 7th Fleet.

When Wally splashed down he was picked up by the USS Kersarge. I looked up information about the cruises of the Kearsarge and it appears that Uncle Larry was on it at the time. Uncle Larry was also on the Kearsarge when it picked up Gordon Cooper in October 1963, but he was lost at sea in August when his plane went down.

There are now only two Mercury astronauts still alive, John Glenn and Scott Carpenter. It just brings home how historic the early space programs are now.

Wally’s fame insures that his memory will be eternal. May he rest in peace.

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