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"I have left three times and found no place else to go. Please take care of Spaceship Earth."
- Wally Schirra


 


Right Click to Stop or Stop Play

Throughout his life, Wally Schirra was a very popular speaker at events around the world. He stayed very active up to the end of his life.  I know this because of working with Wally on special engagements through my speakers bureau in San Diego.  But before we began working together on this aspect of his life, I knew him through his community presence and as a good friend.

I've been a radio personality in Southern California since 1976 (now at San Diego KCBQ 1170 AM). When Wally and Jo Schirra moved to San Diego, I met him at one of many local events they'd attend.  However it wasn't until 1993 that we really connected. I was hosting a weekly TV entertainment show and called Wally to guest on the show. He didn't hesitate and stopped by the next day for taping.  That led to a friendship that continued through the rest of his life.  On the day after his passing, I shared a special tribute to Wally on my old station, KOGO radio:
listen to it here

He encouraged me to get involved with his beloved San Diego Air & Space Museum, which I gladly did. That work continues today as I remain on the Board of Directors. I'm there and stay dedicated to the Museum's work because of Wally. He was like an "aviation mentor". I'm certainly not alone. At every opportunity, every appearance, he encouraged and inspired people to get working, get involved, explore and break the boundaries... just as he did as a test pilot and astronaut, then as a community leader.

In recent years Wally and I partnered in arranging speaking engagements, too. That also led to meeting Tracy Kornfeld, and seeing this amazing website come into being.  All along the way, Americans were excited to see how up-to-date Wally was in person, plugged into the news and scientific discoveries of the day. He made doing an hour speech, with questions and answers, look easy.  And he loved the connection with people.  The photos on this website give you a small sample of places where he was featured... and hit home runs every time.

Now that he's left us, his legacy endures. I hope and pray that Americans will use this moment of reflection to build on what he accomplished and help to inspire others in his memory. God bless him. He will be greatly missed.



Mark Larson
Mark Larson Media Services, Inc.
San Diego, California

 

PLEASE EMAIL mark@marklarson.com or call (619) 881-2851

 

 


 


Tom Stafford, Curt Newport, Rick Searfoss, Charlie Duke, Walt Cunningham, Me,
Ed Gibson, Dick Gordon, Paul Weitz, Jerry Carr, Guenter Wendt,
Scott Carpenter & Bill Dana


Hayley Sager 


  AHOF Inductions


Bill Anders, John Young, Gordon Cooper


Konrad Dannenberg in Huntsville


 






Wally strove to bring a smile to everyone he met and it's with a
smile that I will forever fondly remember him.
Somewhere up there, right about now, Wally is asking the
angels not to sing 'Yellow Bird.'

Scott Carpenter, Mercury Astronaut & ASF Founder
[pictured above with Dee O'Hara, Mercury Nurse]



 

The Schirra family has suggested that you may want to make a donation in Wally's name to one of the following organizations:
 

Astronaut Scholarship Foundation
6225 Vectorspace Blvd
Titusville, Fl 32780
(321) 269-6119
San Diego Air & Space Museum
2001 Pan American Plaza
Balboa Park, San Diego, CA 92101
(619) 234-8291
The Society of Experimental Test Pilots' Scholarship Foundation
P. O. Box 986
Lancaster, CA 93584
(661) 942-9574
The Schirra family thanks you for your generosity and outpouring of affection towards Wally

"You're sad. You mourn the loss. But you don't wear the black armband forever."

Wally Schirra on the loss of the Apollo 1 crew, 1967

Radio Commentary with Mark Larson & Tracy Kornfeld, WallySchirra.Com Webmaster [mp3]
Radio Commentary with Mark Larson featuring Wally Schirra Interview [mp3]
Read Wally's Obituary on CollectSpace.Com
Read and leave a Tribute to Wally on CollectSpace.Com
CBS Nightly News Tribute
CNN Tribute
NBC San Diego News Video Report on Memorial Service
 


Laura and I are saddened by the death of Wally Schirra. Wally was a member of the Original Seven, our nation's first class of astronauts. "Jolly Wally," as he was affectionately known, was the fifth American to go into space and holds the distinction as the only astronaut to fly in each of NASA's pioneering space flight programs: Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo. His ventures into space furthered our understanding of manned space flight and helped pave the way for mankind's first journey to the Moon. Laura and I join Wally's family and friends and the NASA community in mourning the loss of an American hero.

 President George W. Bush

Many of us are adjusting to the loss of a friend. Wally Schirra and I worked together, flew together and lived together for more than three years, as the prime crew of Apollo 2, the backup crew for Apollo 1 and, finally, as the prime crew for Apollo 7. There were long periods when we spent more time together than we did with our families.

In our small fraternity, friendships are exceeded only by the bonds of mutual respect. Mutual respect is earned in the professional arena, forged under the pressure of critical situations. We would, and did, put our lives in each other's hands - many times.

Much of the public knew Wally as a jokester. I, myself, have described him as a "happy warrior." Wally may have been a happy-go-lucky guy, but he was so much more. Wally gained our respect the old fashioned way--he earned it.

Who could not admire Wally's Mercury flight? It was test pilot perfect. It was certainly one of the highlights of his career, because there was none better in the Mercury program.

Wally's contribution to the often-overlooked Gemini Program was to fly the first rendezvous in space; once more, picture perfect. But he earned my undying respect for something he did not do; he stayed in his Gemini VI spacecraft to fly another day when everything, except Wally's senses, said to abort, with two lives hanging in the balance. For me, it was one of the two most impressive highlights of the Gemini Program, along with the Borman/Lovell 14-day mission.

When we were assigned the Apollo 7 mission following the Apollo 1 fire, Wally's life took on a new sense of purpose. It was my honor to fly with my friend, Wally, on the first test flight of a brand new spacecraft. The importance of this critical mission, as well as accomplishing all of the mission and test objectives is sometimes lost in the discussion of colds in space and television camera schedules. No one should ever forget that Wally's last spaceflight was described as "101 percent successful".

Those are details. Wally should be remembered for something much more significant.

At a time when some doctors were saying that man could not live in space, Wally was among that small group of men who volunteered to go where no man had gone before. In today's increasingly risk-averse society, Wally should be remembered for accepting a challenge to explore the unknown and prove that man could live and work in space.

Without people like Wally, no one today would be talking about "The Right Stuff."

Throughout his life, Wally never forgot that his accomplishments carried with them an obligation. There are thousands of people, young and old, who have been inspired by the ease with which he shared his experiences with the public.

I am proud to have had Wally as a friend. I will miss him.

Walter Cunningham - Apollo 7 LMP


You couldn't have known any of the following, so for the record let me just say that I was the one who gave Wally the harmonica, on which he blew Jingle Bells, at dinner in Crew Quarters the night before the Gemini 6A mission and also created all those cue cards, shown on the first TV from space, during his Apollo 7 flight. (not mentioned was "Paul Haney Are You A Turtle ?") I also prepared and dubbed all the music on Govt. cassette tapes that were carried on the Gemini Flights..... gave Neil the music he took to the Moon etc..... and became a Space Historian just because I carried a Uher tape recorder with me during all those times and recorded interviews and tons of other stuff and now my collection of 700+ reels of Audio Tape is in the Smithsonian Air & Space Museum.
 
Oh well,. they were glorious times and for a guy from the record business to have been a part of it makes me feel very proud and honored to have contributed a little.

Mickey Kapp - Kapp Records

When in the course of human events that event should include Wally Schirra, let all ye present know that the Mirth will be served in bigger helpings than the tightly wrapped minidogs. As Wally says, "the sex wasn;t that good" but Wally and I were and are close and good pals from the starting gate days when Mickey Kapp first sent "Jose The Astronaut" to Langley.
 

According to the count created by the Magnificent Seven themselves, John Glenn, Scott Carpenter and myself now constitute three eighths of the surviving original Mercury Mix. No greater honor can or will be bestowed upon this flightless bird. Ever. No sir.
 

I close with hopes that this sentimental sharing will end WallyGotcha! free.

So far so good.

Bill "Jose Jimenez" Dana

Wally took his last flight. Remember this about Wally 'Skyray' Schirra. Wally had a lot of boring simulations, rigorous tests, exciting flying and good times with all of us. Now he's up there in that big hanger in the sky, doing a lot of good flying. But before he went flying, he and Alan 'Jose' Shepard pulled some really good gotchas. We miss him and we will be up there one day and try some of that flying ourselves. Happy landings,
 
Ed Buckbee, Co-Author "The Real Space Cowboys

Wally Schirra was one of those Americans who helped move our species forward by cheating death -- in jets, in capsules sitting atop the controlled explosions called rockets, in spacecraft sailing across the void of space.  He will always be remembered, but now that death has collected that bet, let's celebrate him one more time and wish God's Speed to Wally Schirra.

Tom Hanks - Actor, Director, Producer

Today is a sad day for NASA and our country, as we mourn the passing yesterday in California of astronaut Walter "Wally" Schirra. With Wally's passing, we at NASA note with sorrow the loss of yet another of the pioneers of human spaceflight. As a Mercury astronaut, Wally was a member of the first group of astronauts to be selected, often referred to as the "Original Seven." Wally is remembered in the close circle of the space community as the pilot who flew a "textbook flight" on his Mercury mission in October 1962.

But Wally's spaceflight career went well beyond Mercury; on his next flight, in December 1965, he commanded the Gemini 6 mission with Tom Stafford as pilot. Wally and Tom carried out the first rendezvous in space, flying for hours in formation with Frank Borman and Jim Lovell in their Gemini 7 spacecraft, and completing one of the key steps along the path to the moon.

The fact that this mission flew at all will always be known as a testimony to Wally's cool precision under stress, for Gemini 6 experienced the first on-pad engine shutdown in human spaceflight history. Worse, the crew had a liftoff indication triggered by a faulty umbilical connection; according to mission rules, they should have ejected from the spacecraft. But Wally did not feel what he thought he should have felt had the booster really begun to take flight, and so the crew stayed aboard, saving the mission and quite possibly the program.

Wally's last flight was Apollo 7, the first to be conducted in the aftermath of the disastrous Apollo 1 fire. This flight was another enormous success, accomplishing "101% of its objectives," according to the post-flight debrief. It also made Wally the first man to command three different spacecraft, and the only one to fly Mercury, Gemini and Apollo.

It was impossible to know Wally, even to meet him, without realizing at once that he was a man who relished the lighter side of life, the puns and jokes and pranks that can enliven a gathering. But this was a distraction from the true nature of the man. His record as a pioneering space pilot shows the real stuff of which he was made. We who have inherited today's space program will always be in his debt.

Mike Griffin
NASA Administrator

Capt. Skyray - what a guy - what a loss! I, like many of you, am heartsick over his untimely death. I met Wally in January of 1960, at the beginning of the Mercury Program, and spent the next 40 plus years trying to get "one-up" on him. I failed miserably. He drove me nuts!

No one loved a pun, a "gotcha", or a glass of chardonnay as much as Wally did. The 5-gallon "urine sample" he left for me remains one of his best gotchas. At least he left it on my desk instead of high atop an old wall mounted air conditioning unit, which is where he usually left them. He did make collecting samples an interesting adventure. And who can forget being a victim of the "come see my mongoose in the box" trick. It's a wonder we didn't break something falling all over each other when that mongoose came flying out of the box. You could hear him laughing all over Cocoa Beach.

Scott Carpenter loved "Yellow Bird" and Wally loved "Stranger on the Shore" by Acker Bilk. I gave Wally the record - then had to take it away from him because I got tired of listening to it.

So many wonderful, warm memories I have of him. And how wonderful it is that no one can take these memories from us.

Aloha, dear friend.
Dee O'Hara
Mercury Nurse


Congress has passed H. Res. 446:

Resolved, That the House of Representatives-

(1) honors the life and accomplishments of Astronaut Walter Marty Schirra and expresses condolences on his passing; and

(2) recognizes the profound importance of Astronaut Schirra's record as a pioneer in space exploration and long-time contributor to NASA's mission as a catalyst to space exploration and scientific advancement in the United States.

A link to the full text can be found here:
www.govtrack.us/congress/bill.xpd?bill=hr110-446


Pioneer astronaut's ashes committed to sea during ceremony aboard Ronald Reagan

MCSN TORREY W. LEE
USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76) Public Affairs
15 February 2008

USS RONALD REAGAN, At Sea - The ashes of retired Navy Capt. and astronaut Walter M. "Wally" Schirra, along with eight other Navy veterans, were committed to the sea Feb. 11 during a special burial at sea ceremony on board USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76).

Schirra, a former Navy test pilot who was one of the original seven Mercury astronauts, died at the age of 84 on May 3, 2007. He holds the distinction of being the only astronaut to fly in each of the Mercury, Gemini and Apollo space missions.  Schirra also had special ties to Ronald Reagan shipmates, visiting the aircraft carrier and signing autographs for the crew in 2005.

In 1962, Schirra became the fifth American in space and the third American to orbit the Earth, circling the globe six times in a flight that lasted more than nine hours.

Schirra once wrote, "We shared a common dream to test the limits of man's imagination and daring.  Those early pioneering flights of Mercury, the performances of Gemini and the trips to the moon established us once and for all as what I like to call a spacefaring nation. Like England, Spain and Portugal crossing the seas in search  of their nations' greatness, so we reached for the skies and ennobled our nation."

Ronald Reagan's command religious ministries department, along with help from the ship's honor guard, organized the morning ceremony.

"I'm in awe of these people in their commitment to their country, their service, and especially their families," said Cmdr. Lee Axtell, Ronald Reagan's command chaplain. "It's Navy tradition to stop for the day and pay tribute."

Ronald Reagan shipmates eagerly took time out of routine carrier operations to put on their service dress blue uniforms to take part in the ceremony.

Fire Controlman 2nd Class Christopher Gronde, a Ronald Reagan Sailor who was previously assigned to the presidential honor guard, said that despite all of the funerals he's take part in, each one still affects him deeply.

"I get this proud feeling about being up there," said Gronde. "I take a lot of pride in Navy tradition," said Gronde. 

In addition to Schirra, some Ronald Reagan Sailors had other ties to the military veterans. 

Aviation Boatswain's Mate 3rd Class Scott Toupin, from Ronald Reagan's air department, committed the ashes of his uncle, Senior Chief Quartermaster William Dawson, to the sea during the ceremony.

Toupin said he was honored to give his uncle his final resting place and found himself moved by the ceremony and holding back tears.

"He never spoke to me about his time in the Navy," said Toupin recalling that his uncle was a quiet and reserved man. "He had served in World War II, Korea and Vietnam, but I didn't know he was in [the Navy] until three months before his death."

With the firing of three symbolic volleys for each of the nine Navy veterans, Ronald Reagan Sailors bid a final farewell to these former shipmates.

Ronald Reagan was commissioned in July 2003, making it the ninth and newest Nimitz-class nuclear-powered aircraft carrier. The ship is named for the 40th U.S. president; its motto, "Peace through Strength," was a recurring theme during the Reagan Presidency.

 



Navy Secretary Names Two New Auxiliary Dry Cargo Ships
04 March 2008

Secretary of the Navy Dr. Donald C. Winter announced the naming of the seventh and eighth Military Sealift Command ships of the Lewis and Clark-class Auxiliary Dry Cargo ships (T-AKE) as Carl Brashear and Wally Schirra.

The selection of Carl Brashear, designated T-AKE 7, honors Master Chief Boatswain's Mate (Master Diver) Carl M. Brashear, who joined the United States Navy in 1948. He was a pioneer in the Navy as the first black deep-sea diver, the first black Master Diver and the first U.S. Navy diver to be restored to full active duty as an amputee, the result of a leg injury he sustained during a salvage operation. After 31 years of service, Brashear officially retired from the U.S. Navy on April 1, 1979. Brashear was the subject of the 2000 movie "Men of Honor" starring Cuba Gooding Jr.

The selection of Wally Schirra, designated T-AKE 8, was chosen in honor of Captain Walter "Wally" Schirra. Schirra was a U.S. Naval Academy graduate and former Navy test pilot who served in both World War II and Korean War.

On Oct. 3, 1962, Schirra became the fifth American in space and is honored as one of the original seven Mercury astronauts. He holds the distinction of being the only astronaut to fly in each of the Mercury, Gemini and Apollo programs. Schirra officially retired from the U.S. Navy and NASA in 1969. Schirra and the other original Mercury 7 astronauts were the subject of the 1983 movie "The Right Stuff".

The naming of Carl Brashear and Wally Schirra continues the tradition of the T-AKE Lewis and Clark-class of honoring legendary pioneers and explorers.

The ship's design is 689 feet in length, has an overall beam of 106 feet, a navigational draft of 30 feet, and displaces approximately 42,000 tons. Powered by a single-shaft diesel-electric propulsion system, the ship can reach a speed of 20 knots. As part of the Naval Fleet Auxiliary Force, the ship will be designated USNS. The term stands for United States Naval Ship. Unlike their United States Ship (USS) counterparts, USNS vessels are manned primarily by civil service and civilian mariners working for the U.S. Navy Military Sealift Command.

 

 

A couple of 50+ year old relics at KSC

Click on photos to enlarge


John Glenn, Scott Carpenter, Gordon Cooper


Gordon Cooper


Bill Dana


Tracy Kornfeld & Walt Cunningham


Blake Rizzo [nice shirt!]


Al Worden


Ray & Dylan Holt 
[another nice shirt!]


Mike Joner


Konrad Dannenberg
von Braun team engineer


Brian Atkins & Lisa von Braun


MSFC Film Crew


J M Busby April 17, 2007


with Sigma 7 model


Ed Buckbee, Scott Carpenter
Bill "Jose" Dana


Emmy Award


Sigma 7 Model


Cece Bibby & Scott Carpenter


After A Bad Pun


Charles Davis


Harold Haberlin


Signing a Flight Helmet


With Sigma 7 Model


James Bilbrey


Gerhardt Daum


Francis French & Walt Cunningham


YBYSAIA! Wally with webmaster Tracy Kornfeld and co-author of "The Real Space Cowboys", Ed Buckbee


Scott Carpenter Salutes Wally at his Memorial Service


Radio personality and friend Mark Larson toasting Wally & Sigma 7 at the Astronaut Hall of Fame on the first anniversary of Wally's passing, May 2, 2008


Jo & Wally Schirra


Turtle Club Induction with original Turtle: Gerry Morton, Inductee: author Francis French, Imperial Potentate: Wally Schirra, Grand Potentate, Ed Buckbee


Rare collage of photos approved by Wally Schirra  but never produced to prove that fellow Mercury Astronaut and good friend, Gus Grissom, could not have accidentally blown the Mercury hatch by showing that his glove sustained damage, while Gus's glove was unscathed
Courtesy of FarthestReaches.Com
Copyright © FarthestReaches.Com


Mt. Soledad Veterans Day Tribute November 2009


Steve Wolfe in Burbank


With Steve Wolfe


Leon Ford of Louisiana


With Gemini 6A crewmate, Tom Stafford and fellow Gemini and Apollo astronaut Gene Cernan


Konrad Dannenberg



Jackie Dannenberg


Konrad Dannenberg


Huntsville Team


Huntsville Team


At one of his final appearances at "Wallyworld", The San Diego Air and Space Museum


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