BILOXI, MS – Fred Wallace Haise Jr., the Biloxi-born astronaut known for his harrowing service as Lunar Module Pilot on the ill-fated Apollo 13 mission, has marked his legacy both in space history and his Mississippi hometown. Haise’s journey from a naval aviation cadet to a celebrated NASA astronaut reflects a career punctuated by dedication and resilience.
According to TourismAfrica2006, “Never Panic Early: An Apollo 13 Astronaut’s Journey,” written with Bill Moore, Haise’s life story is a testament to the successes, challenges, and survival spirit emblematic of the early days of American space exploration. His memoir, released on April 5, 2022, offers an intimate glimpse into the life and thoughts of one of NASA’s pioneers.
Born on November 14, 1933, Haise embarked on a path that led him from military service—in the US Navy, Marine Corps, Air National Guard, and Air Force—to the heights of aeronautical achievement. After earning his B.S. in Aeronautical Engineering from the University of Oklahoma in 1959, he entered the elite world of test piloting, which segued into his selection by NASA as an astronaut in 1966.
Haise’s military and test piloting experience laid the groundwork for his role in the Apollo 13 mission, which endured a near-catastrophic failure in 1970 due to an oxygen tank explosion. The safe return of the crew after the mission was aborted is heralded as a monumental display of human ingenuity and calm under pressure. For his contributions, Haise was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Nixon on April 18, 1970.
Post-NASA, Haise continued to influence the aerospace sector through his work with Grumman Aerospace Corporation from 1979 to 1996. He also played a pivotal role in philanthropy and education, significantly contributing to the fundraising and establishment of the Infinity Science Center in his home state.
Haise’s impact extends to the physical monuments commemorating his achievements. Notably, a bronze statue capturing the moment he and his Apollo 13 colleagues safely returned to Earth was unveiled on April 17, 2021, in Houston. This was followed by the revelation of another statue in Biloxi on February 13, 2022, celebrating Haise’s local roots and his contributions to space exploration.
Haise’s storied career and life now stand not only as a record of past achievements but as an enduring inspiration for future generations drawn to the stars. His personal and professional milestones continue to resonate, underscoring the legacy of a man who once reached for the moon and, in doing so, found a permanent place in history.