Ranking Member Johnson Introduces Apollo I Memorial Act
(Washington, DC) – Last night, Ranking Member Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX) introduced H.R. 6147, the “Apollo I Memorial Act.” This bill establishes a memorial in Arlington Cemetery to honor the astronauts who died in the 1967 Apollo I spacecraft fire. In addition to Ranking Member Johnson, original cosponsors of the bill include Chairman Jeff Miller (R-FL) of the Committee on Veterans Affairs; Rep. Corrine Brown (D-FL); Ranking Member Mark Takano (D-CA) of the Committee on Veterans Affairs; Ranking Member Donna Edwards (D-MD) of the Science, Space, and Technology Committee’s Subcommittee on Space, and Rep. Gus Bilirakis (R-FL).
Ranking Member Eddie Bernice Johnson’s (D-TX) statement on the bill is below.
“Mr. Speaker, I rise today to introduce the ‘Apollo 1 Memorial Act’. The Nation’s success in human spaceflight is well documented. Astronauts are American heroes. John Glenn, Neil Armstrong, and Sally Ride. These are some of the familiar names that our children read about in their textbooks.
“Unfortunately, success in human spaceflight has come at a high cost. Brave men and women have paid the ultimate cost in the name of space exploration.
“On January 27, 1967, Astronauts Command Pilot Virgil I. “Gus” Grissom, Senior Pilot Edward H. White II, and Pilot Roger B. Chaffee were killed in an electrical fire that broke out inside their Apollo I Command Module on Launch Pad 34 at the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida. Although all three astronauts were posthumously awarded the Congressional Space Medal of Honor, it is surprising that we do not have a memorial to honor the lives of the crew of Apollo 1 as was done for the Space Shuttle Challenger and Columbia crews.
“This bill would redress that unfortunate omission. As Arlington National Cemetery is where we recognize heroes who have passed in the service of the Nation, it is fitting on the 50th anniversary of the Apollo I accident that we acknowledge these astronauts by building a memorial in their honor. This bill would direct the Secretary of the Army, in consultation with the Administrator of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), to construct at an appropriate place in Arlington National Cemetery, a memorial marker honoring these fine men.
“In addition to $500,000 from the Army’s fiscal year 2017 operations and maintenance appropriated funds, the bill provides the NASA Administrator with the authority to accept donations of services, money, and property for the memorial marker.
“In closing Mr. Speaker, on the eve of the 50th anniversary of the Apollo accident, we have the opportunity to honor these three brave men and their contribution to America’s preeminence in human spaceflight. It is time to build a memorial so that current and future Americans never forget their sacrifice.
“I am pleased to be joined by Chairman Jeff Miller and Reps. Corrine Brown, Mark Takano, Donna Edwards and Gus Bilirakis as an original cosponsor of this legislation, and I hope that it can be swiftly enacted into law.”