Theodore Freeman

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Theodore C. Freeman
Theodore Cordy Freeman.jpg
NASA Astronaut
Nationality United States
Born Theodore Cordy Freeman
(1930-02-18)February 18, 1930
Haverford, Pennsylvania, U.S.
Died October 31, 1964(1964-10-31) (aged 34)
Houston, Texas, U.S.
Resting place
Arlington National Cemetery
Other occupation
Test pilot,
aeronautical engineer
University of Delaware (attended one year)
U.S. Naval Academy,
(B.S. 1953)
University of Michigan,
(M.S. 1960)
Rank US-O3 insignia.svg Captain, U.S. Air Force
Selection 1963 NASA Group 3
Missions None

Theodore Cordy "Ted" Freeman (February 18, 1930 – October 31, 1964), was an American aeronautical engineer, U.S. Air Force officer, test pilot, and NASA astronaut. Selected in the third group of NASA astronauts in 1963, he was killed a year later in the crash of a T-38 jet, marking the first fatality among the NASA Astronaut Corps. At the time of his death, he held the rank of captain.[1][2]

Early years[edit]

Born in Haverford, Pennsylvania, on February 18, 1930, Freeman was named after the man who raised his father (Theodore Cullen Donovan), as well as his maternal grandfather (Thomas Cordy Wilson).[3]:5 Raised in Lewes, Delaware, he attended Lewes Elementary School from 1936 to 1944. His father was a farmer and his brother a carpenter, and it seemed as if he would also have a blue collar career. When Freeman and his brother were young, they saved up money so they could take plane rides. He also was a part-time worker, helping to refuel the planes and work on them. He spent most of his money on flying lessons, and with over 450 hours of flying on his training record, earned his pilot's license by the age of 16. "I sort of grew up at the airport," Freeman said.[3]:6

Freeman played baseball and football in high school. While playing football, he was hit hard and his teeth were knocked out of alignment. He was the president of the school's student and the local chapter of the National Honor Society; he graduated as an honors student ranked third in his class in 1948.[3]:7

He was a Boy Scout and he earned the rank of First Class.[4]

Education[edit]

During his senior year of high school, Freeman completed the application to the U.S. Naval Academy. He passed the scholarship portion, but failed the medical portion due to his crooked teeth. He was told if he straightened them out he would be accepted the next year.[3]:7

During that year, Freeman attended the University of Delaware at Newark to further his education. He also made some money by spotting schools of fish for local fisherman. Freeman had an operation to fix his teeth, which included grinding his teeth down, then wore braces for several months to finish the effort. He was admitted to the U.S. Naval Academy Class of 1953 on June 17, 1949.[3]:8 Freeman graduated from Annapolis in 1953 with a Bachelor of Science degree. In 1960, he received a Master of Science degree in Aeronautical Engineering from the University of Michigan.[5]

Military and NASA career[edit]

"We don't look on this as dangerous work. It's about the most fascinating job I could imagine."

Freeman, about his astronaut duties.[6]

Freeman (standing, fourth from left), with fellow The Fourteen astronauts

Freeman elected to enter the U.S. Air Force and took flight training at Hondo Air Force Base and Bryan Air Force Base, Texas and at Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada.[3]:11 He was awarded his pilot wings in February 1955, shortly after being promoted to first lieutenant, then served in the Pacific and at George Air Force Base, California. He was promoted to captain in June 1960 while pursuing his master's degree at the University of Michigan and then went to Edwards Air Force Base, California, in February 1960 as an aerospace engineer.[3]:13

Freeman graduated from both the Air Force's Experimental Test Pilot School (Class 62A) and Aerospace Research Pilot School (Class IV) courses. He elected to serve with the Air Force. His last Air Force assignment was as a flight test aeronautical engineer and experimental flight test instructor at the ARPS at Edwards AFB in the Mojave Desert.[5]

Freeman served primarily in performance flight testing and stability testing areas; he logged more than 3,300 hours flying time, including more than 2,400 hours in jet aircraft. Freeman was one of the third group of astronauts selected by NASA in October 1963 and was assigned the responsibility of aiding the development of boosters.[7]

Death[edit]

On the morning of Saturday, October 31, 1964, after a delay caused by fog, Freeman piloted a T-38A Talon from St. Louis to Houston.[3] He was returning from McDonnell training facilities in St. Louis and crashed during final approach to landing at Ellington Air Force Base in Houston. There were reports of geese due to the fog, one of which flew into the port-side air intake of his NASA-modified T-38 jet trainer, causing the engine to flame out.[3]:3,20 Flying shards of Plexiglas entered the jet engine during the crash.[3]:20

Freeman attempted to land on the runway, but realized he was too short and might hit military housing. He banked away from the runway, and decided to eject. The jet had nosed down a considerable amount, and he ejected nearly horizontally. Freeman's parachute did not deploy in time, and he died upon impact with the ground. His skull was fractured and he had severe chest injuries.[3]:21–22,25

Personal life[edit]

Freeman was survived by his wife Faith Clark Freeman and one daughter, Faith Huntington.[5] Faith Freeman first heard of her husband's death when a reporter came to her house: NASA subsequently ensured that in the case of future astronaut deaths, their families were informed by other astronauts as quickly as possible.[7] He was buried with full military honors in Arlington National Cemetery.[8]

Organizations[edit]

Freeman was a member of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics and the Society of Experimental Test Pilots.[5]

Honors[edit]

Space Mirror Memorial for Theodore Freeman, Space Shuttle Challenger
Space Mirror Memorial Theodore Freeman

The Clear Lake City-County Freeman Branch Library of the Harris County Public Library and Houston Public Library systems is named in memory of Freeman. An artificial island off Southern California is also named for him. This is one of the four "Astronaut Islands" built in Long Beach Harbor during the late 1960s as unsinkable platforms for oil drilling; the others were named Grissom, White and Chaffee, in honor of the astronauts killed in the Apollo 1 fire.[9][10] The Theodore C. Freeman Highway in Lewes, Delaware, an approach road to the Cape May–Lewes Ferry which carries U.S. Route 9, was named after him by a resolution of the Delaware Senate on December 21, 1965. A plaque commemorating Freeman was unveiled at the Lewes terminal of the Cape May–Lewes Ferry on June 18, 2014, with Governor Jack Markell and family members of Freeman in attendance at the ceremony.[11][12]

Books[edit]

An account of Freeman's life and career appears in the 2003 book Fallen Astronauts by space historians Colin Burgess and Kate Doolan.[13]

Oriana Fallaci's If the Sun Dies, a book on the early days of the American space program, features an account of Freeman.[14]

The Forgotten Astronauts by Codex Regius includes a brief account on the circumstances of Freeman's death.[15]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Astronaut killed in plane crash". Spokesman-Review. (Spokane, Washington). Associated Press. November 1, 1964. p. 1. 
  2. ^ "Jet trainer crash kills astronaut". Pittsburgh Press. UPI. November 1, 1964. p. 1. 
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Burgess, Colin; Doolan, Kate; Vis, Bert. Fallen Astronauts. 
  4. ^ "Theodore C. Freeman at scouting.org". Boy Scouts of America. Archived from the original on June 22, 2011. Retrieved May 30, 2017. 
  5. ^ a b c d "Theodore Freeman Biography". Johnson Space Center. Retrieved May 27, 2017. 
  6. ^ "Theodore C. Freeman's quotation". astronautmemorial.net. Archived from the original on August 17, 2007. Retrieved May 30, 2017. 
  7. ^ a b Collins, Michael (2001). Carrying the Fire: An Astronaut's Journeys. Cooper Square Press. ISBN 0-8154-1028-X. 
  8. ^ "Theodore Cordy Freeman". Arlington National Cemetery Website. Retrieved May 27, 2017. 
  9. ^ Brittingham, Hazel (March 21, 2004). "Fallen Astronauts: Book Review". Michael Robert Patterson. Retrieved May 16, 2012. 
  10. ^ "City of Long Beach Enterprise Zone". City of Long Beach. Archived from the original (PDF) on July 13, 2010. Retrieved May 16, 2012. 
  11. ^ "Delaware Code - 123rd General Assembly - Chapter 489". State of Delaware. Retrieved June 20, 2017. 
  12. ^ MacArthur, Ron (June 23, 2014). "Freeman Highway named after American hero". Cape Gazette. Retrieved January 27, 2018. 
  13. ^ Burgess, Colin; Doolan, Kate; Vis, Bert (2003). Fallen Astronauts: Heroes Who Died Reaching for the Moon. Lincoln and London: University of Nebraska Press. ISBN 0-8032-6212-4. 
  14. ^ Fallaci, Oriana (1966). If the Sun Dies. New York: Atheneum. 
  15. ^ Codex Regius (2014). The Forgotten Astronauts: A Rarely Told Chapter of American Spaceflight History. ISBN 1-4996-1012-2. 

External links[edit]