Biographical Sketch of Virgil Grissom
Virgil I. Grissom, the second U.S. astronaut to ride the Mercury-Redstone,
was chosen with the first group of astronauts in 1959.
He was born in 1926 in Mitchell, Indiana, and entered the Air
Force in 1944 as an aviation cadet. Following discharge in November
1945, he earned a degree in mechanical engineering at Purdue University.
After graduation he returned to aviation cadet training, receiving
his wings in March 1951.
He joined the 75th Fighter-Interceptor Squadron at Presque Isle,
Maine, as an F-86 fighter pilot and flew 100 combat missions in
Korea with the 334th Fighter-Interceptor Squadron, receiving the
Distinguished Flying Cross and Air Medal with Cluster.
Grissom left Korea in 1952 and became a jet pilot instructor at
Bryan, Texas. In 1955 he went to the Air Force Institute of Technology
at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, to study aeronautical
In 1956 he attended the Test Pilot School at Edwards Air Force
Base, California, and then returned to the Wright-Patterson Air
Force Base in 1957 as a test pilot assigned to the Fighter Branch.
He was pilot was Mercury-Redstone 4 (Liberty Bell 7), a suborbital
flight, and he was command pilot for Gemini 3, backup command
pilot for Gemini 6, and had been selected as commander of the
first Apollo flight at the time of his death. He was one of three
astronauts to die on January 27, 1967, in the Apollo 204 fire
at Cape Kennedy.