Lt. General Thomas P. Stafford
Thomas Stafford received a Bachelor of Science degree (with honors) from the United States Naval Academy in 1952.
After graduating from the United States Naval Academy, Stafford was commissioned in the United States Air Force, flying the F-86 Sabre before becoming a test pilot. He was selected to become an astronaut in 1962 and flew aboard Gemini 6A in 1965 and Gemini 9A in 1966. In 1969, Stafford was the commander of Apollo 10, the second crewed mission to orbit the Moon and the first to fly a Lunar Module in lunar orbit, descending to an altitude of nine miles.
In 1975, Stafford was the commander of the Apollo-Soyuz Test Project (ASTP) flight, the first joint U.S.-Soviet space mission. He was promoted to Lt. General in March 1978, and in May 1978 assumed the duties as the USAF Deputy Chief of Staff for Research, Development and Acquisition, HQ USAF, Washington, D.C.
In addition to the standard duties of his position, in 1979, General Stafford personally initiated the development of the F-117A stealth fighter program. Stafford then wrote the initial design specifications for, and started, the Advanced Technology Bomber development (ATV) Program (later renamed the B-2A Stealth Bomber) even though no statement-of-need or requirements existed. He initiated the Advanced Cruise Missile program, designated as the AGM-129 Stealth Cruise Missile, and started the F-110 Afterburning Turbo-Fan Fighter engine program. He also initiated what would become the roadmap for the Advanced Tactical Fighter (ATF), which would become the F-22A Stealth Fighter.
General Stafford retired from the Air Force in November 1979. By the end of his military and NASA career, General Stafford would become the first member of his Naval Academy Class of 1952 to pin on the first, second and third stars of a General Officer. He has flown six rendezvous in space; logged 507 hours and 43 minutes in space flight time and wears the Air Force Command Pilot Astronaut Wings. He has flown over 127 different types of aircraft and helicopters, four different types of spacecraft, and rode three different types of boosters into space.
In addition, General Stafford is the recipient of many honorary degrees, including doctorate of humane letters, University of Oklahoma; a doctorate of laws from the University of Cordoba, Argentina; doctorate of humane letters, Oklahoma State University; doctorate of communications, Emerson College, Boston, Massachusetts; a Masters and Doctorate of human letters, Southwestern Oklahoma State University, Weatherford, Oklahoma; a doctorate of laws, Western State University, Los Angeles, California; a doctorate of science from Oklahoma City University; a doctorate of aeronautical engineering, Embry Riddle Aeronautical University, Daytona Beach, Florida; and a doctorate of humanities, Oklahoma Christian College, Edmond, Oklahoma.
ORGANIZATIONS: Member, National Academy of Engineering; Fellow of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA); Fellow of the American Astronautical Society; the Society of Experimental Test Pilots; and a member of the Masonic Lodge. SPECIAL HONORS: Congressional Space Medal of Honor; Presidential Medal of Freedom; Wright Brothers Memorial Trophy; Harmon International Aviation Trophy (2x); Federation Aeronautique Internationale Gold Space Medal; American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) Chanute Flight Award; National Geographic Society’s General Thomas D. White USAF Space Trophy; Veterans of Foreign Wars National Space Award; National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences Special Trustees “Emmy” Award; Society of Experimental Test Pilots James H. Doolittle Award for Management; Rotary National Award for Space Achievement (RNASA); National Aviation Hall of Fame; National Astronaut Hall of Fame; the Aerospace Walk of Honor; the State of Oklahoma Hall of Fame; Oklahoma Commerce and Industry Hall of Honor; and selected as the Oklahoma Aviator of the Century. Awards from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration include NASA’s Distinguished Service Medals (4x), Exceptional Service Medals (2x), and NASA’s Medal for outstanding leadership (one of the agencies highest awards). He served as the Chairman of the Operations Oversight Committee of the first Hubble Telescope Spacecraft Servicing and Repair Mission that corrected the design and manufacturing defect of the instrument, and he received NASA’s Public Service Award for the Hubble Telescope Service and Repair Mission for his tremendous efforts to help save the orbiting telescope. Military honors include the Air Force Distinguished Flying Cross with one Oak Leaf Cluster, Distinguished Service Medal (4x), Air Force Outstanding Unit Award with one Oak Leaf Cluster, Air Force Commendation Medal, the Air Force Command Pilot Astronaut Wings, the USAF’s Lifetime Achievement Award, and designated as a Distinguished Graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy.
See General Stafford’s complete biography here.