Moon-Orbiting Astronaut Receives Honors
The commander of the
first mission to orbit the moon received an honorary doctor of
science degree by Air University officials for his contributions to
aviation and space exploration at the Air Force Test Pilot School
Retired Col. Frank Borman, the leader of the Apollo 8 mission,
received the honorary degree presented by Lt. Gen. Allen G. Peck,
the Air University commander, in front of family, friends, faculty
and students at the graduation ceremony.
"As the intellectual and leadership center of the Air Force, it
is fitting that an honorary degree be bestowed upon someone who has
distinguished himself not only as an internationally-known leader
in aviation, but as the epitome of the Test Pilot School," said Dr.
Bruce T. Murphy, the AU chief academic officer.
After selection by NASA for astronaut training in 1962, the
Gary, Ind., native served as commander of the Gemini 7 mission
recognized as the first rendezvous of two spacecraft in orbit.
During that same mission, Colonel Borman and fellow astronaut Jim
Lovell became the first men to spend 14 consecutive days in space.
Colonel Borman also was an instructor at Air University.
After the Apollo-1 (204) fire in 1967, which killed three
astronauts, Colonel Borman was chosen to be the only astronaut on
the investigation review board. He was instrumental in convincing
Congress to continue funding future space explorations.
"As the Apollo program resident manager, [Colonel Borman]
directed the reengineering of the Apollo spacecraft that played a
major role in restoring faith in the Apollo program and morale in
[his] fellow astronauts," General Peck said.
In December 1968, the "dean of astronauts" led Apollo 8 as the
first spacecraft to leave Earth's gravitational field and circle
Also in 1968, the Apollo 8 crew was indisputably named Time
Magazine's Men of the Year for their space explorations. Time
Magazine declared, "your names would be remembered along with those
of Marco Polo and Amundsen, Captain Cook and Colonel Lindberg."
Colonel Borman served as liaison to President Richard Nixon
during the Apollo 11 lunar landing. He later became a special
presidential ambassador on a worldwide tour to encourage the better
treatment and release of American prisoners of war held in North
Vietnam. His successful interactions with foreign leaders resulted
in a commendation from the secretary of State.
Later, Colonel Borman
became Easter Airlines president, chief operating officer and
chairman, leading the organization through turbulent times and
engineering numerous improvements resulting in the company's four
most profitable years.
The "intrepid space pioneer" was honored throughout his career
with numerous awards, honors and trophies: by the President of the
United States with the Congressional Space Medal of Honor; by the
Air Force with the Distinguished Service Medal, the Legion of Merit
and the Distinguished Flying Cross; and induction into the U.S.
Astronaut Hall of Fame, the National Aviation Hall of Fame and the
International Aerospace Hall of Fame.
He also received the Harmon International Aviation Trophy, the
Robert J. Collier Trophy and the National Geographic Society's
In addition, Air University's Gathering of Eagles, which
recognizes aviation legends, honored the colonel twice.
During his address as the guest speaker to the Test Pilot School
graduates, who hailed from different countries and services,
Colonel Borman spoke about his aviation and space experiences while
highlighting the significant changes and improvements in the Air
Force, aviation and space. He also recounted the unchanging mission
of today's Air Force and the Air Force he served.
He shared characteristics of successful leaders with the Test
Pilot School graduates -- to be confident, have integrity, be
knowledgeable and demonstrate a willingness to take risks.
"This [year] is the 40th anniversary of the first person on the
moon," Doctor Murphy said. "So there is a focus on space, there is
a focus on exploration. There is no person better than Frank Borman
to highlight the Air Force's role in the exploration of space."
Colonel Borman is the second honorary degree recipient since the
inception of the AU program in 2007, which is designed to recognize
individuals who are extraordinary contributors in education,
government, public service, civic and community affairs; industry,
commerce and labor; and the arts, letters and science.
The first recipient was former Secretary of State Condoleezza
Rice, who received the doctor of letters degree in April 2008 for
her academic achievements and contributions to international
relations and national security. [ANN Salutes Senior Airman Melissa
Copeland, Air University Public Affairs]