John Leonard "Jack" Swigert Jr. (August 30, 1931 – December 27, 1982) was an American test pilot, mechanical and aerospace engineer, United States Air Force pilot, and NASA astronaut, one of the 24 people who have flown to the Moon.
|John L. Swigert Jr.|
Swigert in April 1970
|Member-elect of the
U.S. House of Representatives
from Colorado's 6th district
November 2, 1982 – December 27, 1982
|Preceded by||Constituency established|
|Succeeded by||Daniel Schaefer|
|Born||August 30, 1931
Denver, Colorado, U.S.
|Died||December 27, 1982
Washington D.C., U.S.
|Resting place||Mount Olivet Cemetery,
Wheat Ridge, Colorado
|Parents||John L. Swigert, M.D.
|Alma mater||University of Colorado,
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, M.S. 1965
University of Hartford,
|Occupation||Fighter pilot, test pilot|
|Service/branch||U.S. Air Force (1953–1956)
MA ANG (1957–1960)
CT ANG (1960–1965)
|Years of service||1953–1965|
|Fighter pilot, test pilot|
Time in space
|5d 22h 54m|
|Selection||1966 NASA Group 5|
|Retirement||August 1977 |
Before joining NASA in 1966, Swigert was a civilian test pilot and fighter pilot in the Air National Guard. After leaving NASA, he was elected to Congress from Colorado's new 6th district, but died before being sworn in.
Early life and educationEdit
Born in Denver, Colorado, with parents John Leonard Swigert Sr. (1903–1973) and Virginia Swigert (1906–1993). Swigert's father was an ophthalmologist. At the age of 14, he became fascinated by aviation. While he would have been content just watching planes take off from nearby Combs Field, young Jack became determined to do more than be a spectator. He took on a newspaper route to earn money for flying lessons, and by age 16 he was a licensed private pilot. He attended Blessed Sacrament School, Regis Jesuit High School, and East High School, from which he graduated in 1949.
Swigert received a Bachelor of Science degree in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Colorado in 1953, where he also played football for the Buffaloes. He later earned a Master of Science degree in Aerospace Engineering from the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (Hartford campus) in 1965, and a Master of Business Administration degree from the University of Hartford in 1967; and was presented an Honorary Doctorate of Science degree from American International College in 1970, and an Honorary Doctorate of Laws degree from Western State University in 1970, and an Honorary Doctorate of Science from Western Michigan University in 1970.
Following his graduation from Colorado in 1953, Swigert joined the U.S. Air Force. Upon graduation from the Pilot Training Program and Gunnery School at Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada, he was assigned as a fighter pilot in Japan and Korea. In the latter nation, he experienced his first narrow escape from death. According to the New York Times, "His plane crashed into a radar unit on a Korean airstrip and burst into flames." He walked away from the accident with minor injuries.
After completing his tour of active duty in the Air Force, he served as a jet fighter pilot with the Massachusetts (1957–1960) and Connecticut Air National Guard (1960–1965). Swigert held a position as engineering test pilot for North American Aviation before joining NASA. He was previously an engineering test pilot for Pratt & Whitney, from 1957 to 1964. He logged over 7,200 hours in flight, with more than 5,725 in jet aircraft.
After unsuccessfully applying for NASA's second and third astronaut selections, Swigert was accepted into the NASA Astronaut Corps as part of NASA Astronaut Group 5 in April 1966. Swigert became a specialist on the Apollo Command Module: he was one of the few astronauts who requested to be command module pilots.
Swigert was one of three astronauts aboard the Apollo 13 moon mission launched April 11, 1970. Originally part of the backup crew for the mission, he was assigned to the mission three days before launch, replacing astronaut Ken Mattingly. The prime crew had been exposed to German Measles (the rubella virus) and, because Mattingly had no immunity to the disease, NASA did not want to risk his falling ill during critical phases of the flight.
The mission was the third lunar-landing attempt, but was aborted after the rupture of an oxygen tank in the spacecraft's service module. Swigert was the astronaut who made the dramatic announcement, "Houston, we've had a problem here". The statement was then repeated by Commander of the flight Jim Lovell. Swigert, along with fellow astronauts Lovell and Fred Haise, returned safely to Earth on April 17 after about 5 days and 23 hours, and received the Presidential Medal of Freedom later that year.
Apollo-Soyuz Test ProjectEdit
Swigert eventually left NASA and the committee in August 1977, to enter politics. In 1979, he became vice president of B.D.M. Corporation, Golden, Colorado. In 1981, Swigert left BDM to join International Gold and Minerals Limited as vice president for financial and corporate affairs.
In February 1982, Swigert left International Gold and Minerals Limited to run for U.S. Congress. On November 2, 1982, Swigert easily won the seat in the state's new 6th congressional district with 64% of the popular vote.
In 1982, during his political campaign, Swigert developed a malignant tumor in his right nasal passage. He underwent surgery, but the cancer spread to his bone marrow and lungs. Seven weeks after the election, he was airlifted on December 19 from his home in Littleton to Georgetown University Hospital in Washington, D.C., and died of respiratory failure at its Lombardi Cancer Center on December 27, eight days before the beginning of his congressional term. He died at the age of 51. He is buried in Mount Olivet Cemetery in Wheat Ridge, Colorado.
Swigert was a member of numerous organizations. He was a fellow of the American Astronautical Society; associate fellow of the Society of Experimental Test Pilots and the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics; and member of the Quiet Birdmen, Phi Gamma Delta, Pi Tau Sigma, and Sigma Tau.
Awards and honorsEdit
- American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) Octave Chanute Award for 1966 (for his participation in demonstrating the Rogallo Wing as a feasible land landing system for returning space vehicles and astronauts)
- Presidential Medal of Freedom, 1970
- NASA Distinguished Service Medal
- American Astronautical Society Flight Achievement Award, 1970
- City of New York City Gold Medal, 1970
- City of Houston Medal for Valor, 1970
- City of Chicago Gold Medal in 1970
- University of Colorado-Boulder's Distinguished Engineering Alumnus Award in 1970
- AIAA Haley Astronautics Award, 1971
- Antonian Gold Medal, 1972.
- In 1983, Swigert was inducted into the International Space Hall of Fame.
- In 1988, Jack Swigert was nominated and inducted into the Colorado Aviation Hall of Fame.
- In 1995, Swigert was portrayed by Kevin Bacon in Ron Howard's film Apollo 13.
- In 1997, a statue of Swigert made by George and Mark Lundeen was placed on display in the U.S. Capitol Building as one of two statues given by the state of Colorado to the National Statuary Hall Collection. As of December 2008 the statue is on display in Emancipation Hall in the United States Capitol Visitor Center. A duplicate statue is currently on display at Denver International Airport.
- In 1997, Jack Swigert was inducted into the U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame.
- In September 2003, John L. Swigert Jr. was elected to the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute Alumni Hall of Fame.
- In 2004, the Space Foundation launched the John L. "Jack" Swigert Jr. Award for Space Exploration, which is presented annually to an individual, group or organization that has made a significant contribution to space exploration. Based in Colorado Springs, Colorado, the Space Foundation was founded in 1983 in part to honor the memory and accomplishments of Swigert.
- On August 18, 2009, the Space Foundation and Colorado Springs District 11 partnered together to open the Jack Swigert Aerospace Academy.
- "John L. Swigert Jr., NASA Astronaut (Deceased)". NASA JSC. Retrieved November 27, 2017.
- Eicher, Diane (December 19, 1982). "Ex-astronaut's challenge". Beaver County Times. (Denver Post). p. B2.
- Treaster, Joseph B. (December 29, 1982). "Jack Swigert, astronaut elected to Congress, dies". New York Times. Retrieved September 14, 2014.
- Carney, Emily. "For Jack Swigert, On His 83rd Birthday". AmericaSpace. Retrieved November 27, 2017.
- John L. Swigert Jr. at scouting.org Archived March 4, 2016, at the Wayback Machine.
- Chaikin, Andrew. A Man on the Moon. Penguin Books Ltd. ISBN 978-0-14-024146-4.
- "Jim Lovell's written account of the mission attributes the quote to Swigert". History.nasa.gov. 1970-04-11. Retrieved 2012-09-14.
- "Ex-astronaut faces battles". Wilmington Morning Star. Associated Press. October 23, 1982. p. 2A.
- "Jack Swigert loses fight against cancer". Ocala Star-Banner. Associated Press. Dec 28, 1982. p. 4D.
- "Ex-astronaut gets eulogized". Victoria Advocate. Associated Press. January 5, 1983. p. 10D.
- "Jack Swigert inducted into the International Space Hall of Fame". New Mexico Museum of Space History. Retrieved November 27, 2017.
- Holmes, Charles W., Editor, Honoree Album of the Colorado Aviation Hall of Fame, The Colorado Aviation Historical Society, 1999, Audubon Media Corp., Audubon, IA.
- "Apollo 13 (1995)". IMDb. Retrieved November 27, 2017.
- "U.S. Capitol Visitor Center Statues". Visitthecapitol.gov. Retrieved 2015-04-15.
- "Jack Swigert inducted into the U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame". Astronaut Scholarship Foundation. Retrieved November 27, 2017.
- "RPI Alumni Hall of Fame: John L. Swigert Jr". Rpi.edu. Retrieved 2012-09-14.
- "Symposium Awards". National Space Symposium. Archived from the original on February 3, 2009. Retrieved November 27, 2017.
- "Jack Swigert Aerospace Academy Opens". Space Foundation. Retrieved 2014-08-29.