History & Tourism

Richland Roots: An Apollo Astronaut With A Mansfield Connection

20 Jul , 2019  

1812Blockhouse shares posts in our “Richland Roots” series to reveal stories of the well-known and less-commonly known people born here, or who lived here, and then went on to make significant contributions to state, regional, or national history.

On this 50th anniversary weekend of man’s landing on the Moon, what better time would there be to recognize someone involved in that effort who was once stationed in Mansfield?

Fred Haise was one of 19 astronauts chosen in 1966 for NASA’s Apollo program. Over the next several years, he was backup lunar module module pilot for both the Apollo 8 and Apollo 11 missions, and then was the backup spacecraft commander for Apollo 16.

Haise is best known, perhaps, for his role in the ill-fated Apollo 13 mission. Scheduled to spend ten days in a hilly region of the Moon, the failure of the oxygen system some 55 hours into flight caused the crew – Haise, James Lovell, and John Swigart – to attempt to return to earth through a courageous control of resources and training.

In the movie “Apollo 13,” Haise was portrayed by actor Bill Paxton.

Some years before, Fred Haise had made Mansfield his home. From October 1961 to August 1962, he was a tactical fighter pilot and was chief of the 164th Standarization-Evaluation Flight of the 164th Tactical Fighter Squadron at Mansfield Lahm.

Having retired in 1979, Haise is now 85 years old and has seen the movie Apollo 13 on many occasions. He has received many honors and is a member of the International Space Hall of Fame, the Aerospace Walk of Honor, and the U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame.

The photo above was taken during Fred Haise’s time in Mansfield.

Photo: Creative Commons License

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