About Wally

About Wally
Skyray-The Movie
Test Pilot
Sigma VII
Gemini VI
Apollo VII
Gotcha's & Turtles
Schirra's Space
USNS Wally Schirra


NAME: Walter M. Schirra, Jr. (Captain, USN, Ret.)
PERSONAL DATA:  Born March 12, 1923, in Hackensack, New Jersey. Final flight May 3, 2007, La Jolla, CA
  • Newark College of Engineering (N.J.I.T.), 1941
  • U.S. Naval Academy, 1942-1945 B.S.
  • Safety Officers School (U.S.C.), 1957
  • U.S. Navy Test Pilot School (N.A.T.C.) 1958
  • NASA Astronaut Training, 1959-1969
  • Honorary Doctorate in Astronautical Engineering, Lafayette College, 1969
  • Honorary Doctorate in Science, U.S.C., 1969
  • Honorary Doctorate in Astronautics, N.J.I.T., 1969
  • Trustee, Detroit Institute of Technology, 1969-1976
  • Advisor, Colorado State University, 1977-1982
  • Trustee, National College, South Dakota, 1983-1987

    Married to the former Josephine Fraser of Seattle, Washington.


    Walter M., III, June 23, 1950; Suzanne, September 29, 1957

    His hobbies included skiing, hunting, sailing, and fishing.
  • Advisory Board/Council, U.S. National Parks (Interior), 1973-1985
  • Director, Denver Organizing Committee for 1976 Olympics, 1973-1975
  • Advisor, Flight for Life, Mercy Hospital, Denver, Co, 1978-1986
  • Trustee, Colorado Outward Bound School (COB), 1970-1974
  • COB Regional Trustee, 1988-2007
  • Advisory Board, International "Up With People", 1976-2007
  • Trustee "Give Kids The World" Foundation 1980-2007
  • Founder/Director, Mercury Seven Foundation, 1982-2007
  • Director, San Diego Aerospace Museum, 1984-2002 became emeritus director
  • Trustee, Scripps Aquarium, 1985-2007
  • Ocean Foundation, 1985-1990 became Trustee
  • Trustee Hubbs/Seaworld Research Institute 1990-2007
  • Sharps Hospital, Foundations Board, San Diego, Ca, 1988- 1998
  • International Council, The Salk Institute, La Jolla, Ca, 1989-1998
  • 33 Degree Mason
  • Society of Experimental Test Pilots (Fellow), 1958- 2007
  • AAS (Fellow), 1960-2007
  • Explorers Club (Fellow) 1965-2007
  • Makai Country Club, Kauai (Princeville), Hi, 1971-2007
  • Rancho Santa Fe Tennis Club, 1985-1995
  • San Diego Yacht Club, 1987-2007
  • Charlie Russell Riders, Charter Member, 1985-2007
  • Rancheros Visitadores, Member, 1989-2001
  • Desert Caballeros, Member, 1989-1998
  • Durango Mountain Caballeros, Member, 1989-2000
  • Q.E.D., San Diego, Ca, 1989-2007
  • The Golden Eagles, (Naval Aviators), 1989- 2007
  • U.S. Distinguished Service Medal
  • Three DFCs
  • Three Air Medals
  • Three NASA DSMs [Apollo 7 DSM awarded posthumously October 2008]
  • Two NASA Exceptional Service Medals
  • Navy Astronaut Wings
  • Collier Trophy
  • Kitty Hawk Award
  • Harmon Trophy, 1966 (Gemini 6 & 7 crews)
  • Honorary Command Pilot, Philippine Air Force, 1966
  • SETP Kincheloe Award
  • Great American Award
  • Golden Key Award
  • Haley Astronautic Award
  • Aerospace Hall of Fame
  • International Aviation Hall of Fame, San Diego, CA
  • New Jersey Aviation Hall of Fame, Teterboro, NJ
  • International Space Hall of Fame, Alamagordo, NM
  • National Aviation Hall of Fame, Dayton, OH
  • Wall of Honor - Naval Aviation Museum, Pensacola, FL
  • Astronaut Hall of Fame, Titusville, FL
  • Launching of T-AKE 8, USNS Wally Schirra, March 2009, San Diego, CA
  • Inducted into the New Jersey Hall of Fame, May 2010, East Rutherford, NJ
  • Pilot, Officer, United States Navy, Carrier Based Fighter Pilot, Operations Officer and Test Pilot. Flew with the U.S. Air Force as an exchange (Jet Fighter) Pilot during the Korean conflict, 1948-1959
  • One of the original seven astronauts and the only astronaut to have flown on all three spacecraft - Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo. As Command Pilot, he flew the initial flight of the Apollo series (Apollo 7) and was deeply involved in the quality assurance and quality control aspects of the "total vehicle system.", 1959-1969
  • Director, Imperial American (Oil & Gas), 1967-1969
  • President, Regency Investors (Leasing), 1969-1970
  • Founder, Environmental Control Co. (ECCO), 1970-1973
  • Director, J.D. Jewel (Chicken Comp.) 1971-1973
  • Director, First National Bank, Englewood, Co., 1971-1978
  • Belgian Consulate for Colorado and New Mexico, 1971-1984
  • Director, V.P., Chairman, Sernco, 1973-1974
  • Director, Rocky Mountain Airlines, 1973-1984
  • Director, Carlsberg Oil & Gas, 1974-1975
  • V. P., Johns-Manville Sales Corp., Denver, Co, 1975-1977
  • Director, Advertising Unlimited, Sleepy Eye, MN, 1978-1987
  • Director, Electromedics, Denver, Co, 1979-1985
  • President, Prometheus Systems, Inc., 1980-1981
  • Director, Finalco (Leasing Co.), McLean, Va, 1983-1988
  • Director, Cherokee Data Systems, Boulder, Co, 1984-1986
  • Director, Net Air Int., Van Nuys, Ca, 1982-1989
  • Director, Kimberly-Clark, Neenah, Wi, 1983-1991
  • Independent Consultant, Schirra Enterprises, 1979-2007
  • Director, Zero Plus Telecommunications, Inc., Campbell, Ca, 1986-2007.


Captain Schirra was one of the seven Mercury Astronauts named by NASA in April 1959. On October 3, 1962; he piloted the six orbit Sigma 7 Mercury flight; a flight which lasted 9 hours, 15 minutes. The spacecraft attained a velocity of 17,557 miles per hour at an altitude of 175 statue miles and traveled almost 144,000 statute miles before re-entry into the earth's atmosphere. Recovery of the Sigma 7 spacecraft occurred in the Pacific Ocean about 275 miles northeast of Midway Island.

Schirra next served as backup command pilot for the Gemini III Mission and on December 15-16, occupied the Command Pilot seat on the history-making Gemini 6 flight. The highlight of this mission was a successful rendezvous of Gemini 6 with the already orbiting Gemini 7 spacecraft, thus, accomplishing the first rendezvous of two manned maneuverable spacecraft and establishing another space first for the United States. Known as a "text book" pilot, Schirra remained in the spacecraft following his Mercury and Gemini flight and is the first Astronaut to be brought aboard recovery ships twice in this manner. With him on Gemini 6, was Astronaut Thomas P. Stafford.

He was the Command Pilot on Apollo VII, the first manned flight test of the three direction United States spacecraft. Apollo VII began on October 11, 1968, with Command Module Pilot Donn F. Eisele and Lunar Module Pilot Walter Cunningham. Schirra participated in, and executed, maneuvers enabling crew members to perform exercises in transposition and docking and orbit rendezvous with the S-IVB stage from the Saturn IB launch vehicle. The mission completed eight successful tests and maneuvering ignitions of the service module propulsion engine, measured the accuracy of performance of all spacecraft systems, and provided the first effective television transmission of on-board crew activities. Apollo VII was placed in an orbit with an apogee of 153.5 nautical miles and a perigee of 122.6 nautical miles.

The 260 hour 4.5 million mile shake down flight was concluded on October 22, with splashdown occurring in the Atlantic some 8 miles from the carrier Essex (only 3/10 of a mile from the originally predicted aiming point). Captain Schirra has logged a total of 295 hours and 15 minutes in space. He is unique in that he is the only Astronaut to have flown Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo.



Wally and Jo Schirra's 50th wedding anniversary with son, Marty and daughter, Suzanne on Kauai
©Schirra Estate No reuse of any kind without the expres written permission of the Schirra Estate



"I realize that planet Earth is unique, at least in our solar system. We know that. It's odd that people try to talk about going to go to some other planet like Earth and they have no respect whatsoever for the contemplation of traveling to these places. We went to the moon - it took us about three days at the speed we went there. To go to the sun, I keep kidding about it: At the speed of light, it takes eight minutes, but you have to go at night." 

                                                                       - Wally Schirra


Click on photos to enlarge

Official NASA Portrait

Dick Gordon and Bill "José Jimenez" Dana

Donn Eisele & Walt Cunningham

Gordon Cooper, Scott Carpenter and Mercury Artist, Cece Bibby

Logan Kennedy

Scott Carpenter

Deke Slayton, Alan Shepard & Jim Lovell

Deke Slayton, Alan Shepard, Bill Dana, Scott Carpenter, Me, Gordon Cooper, John Glenn

Dick Gordon

Neil Armstrong (some other astronaut)

Memorial plaque from LC-34

Speaking with Space Camp students

Signing a museum bound Lunar Orbiter Prototype

In the Alpha Trainer

Mercury Nurse Dee O'Hara. For once, not a "pointed" conversation

Sharing a good laugh with Pad Leader
Guenter Wendt

With Walt and Dot Cunningham


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