Roger B. Chaffee

Roger B. Chaffee
NASA astronaut
Nationality American
Born (1935-02-15)February 15, 1935
Grand Rapids, Michigan, U.S.
Died January 27, 1967(1967-01-27) (aged 31)
Cape Kennedy, Florida, U.S.
Resting place
Arlington National Cemetery
Other names
Roger Bruce Chaffee
Other occupation
Naval aviator
Illinois Institute of Technology
Purdue University, B.S. 1957
Rank US-O4 insignia.svg Lieutenant Commander,
  United States Navy
Selection 1963 NASA Group 3
Missions Apollo 1
Mission insignia
Apollo 1 patch.png
Awards Congressional Space Medal of Honor
Air Medal (2)

Roger Bruce Chaffee ( /, February 15, 1935 – January 27, 1967) was an American naval officer and naval aviator, aeronautical engineer, and NASA astronaut in the Apollo program.

Chaffee was born in Grand Rapids, Michigan, where he became an Eagle Scout. He graduated from Central High School in 1953, and accepted a Naval Reserve Officers Training Corps (NROTC) scholarship. He began his college education at Illinois Institute of Technology, where he was also involved in the fraternity Phi Kappa Sigma. He transferred to Purdue University in the autumn of 1954, where he continued his involvement in Phi Kappa Sigma and obtained his private pilot's license.

After graduating from Purdue in 1957, Chaffee completed his Navy pre-commissioning training, and was commissioned as an ensign. He began pilot training at Naval Air Station Pensacola, Florida, flying a variety of planes including the T-34, T-28, and A3D. He became quality and safety control officer for Heavy Photographic Squadron 62 (VAP-62). His time in this unit included taking crucial photos of Cuba during the Cuban Missile Crisis, for which he was awarded the Air Medal. He was promoted to lieutenant commander on February 1, 1966.

Along with thirteen other pilots, Chaffee was selected to be an astronaut as part of NASA Astronaut Group 3 in 1963. He served as capsule communicator (CAPCOM) for the Gemini 3 and Gemini 4 missions, and received his first spaceflight assignment in 1966. In 1967, he died in a fire along with fellow astronauts Virgil "Gus" Grissom and Ed White during a pre-launch test for the Apollo 1 mission at what was then the Cape Kennedy Air Force Station Launch Complex 34, Florida. He was posthumously awarded the Congressional Space Medal of Honor and a second Air Medal.

Early life

Roger Bruce Chaffee was born on February 15, 1935, in Grand Rapids, Michigan, [1] the second child of Donald Lynn Chaffee (an American citizen of Lebanese descent) and Blanche May (Mike) Chaffee née Mosher. [2]:136 He had an older sister, Donna, born two years earlier. [3]:17 In January 1935, in their hometown of Greenville, Michigan, his father was diagnosed with scarlet fever, and Mike moved in with her parents in Grand Rapids, where Roger was born. The family spent the next seven years in Greenville before moving to Grand Rapids, where his father took a job as the chief Army Ordnance inspector at the Doehler-Jarvis plant. [4] [2]:136

Boy Scouts

Chaffee excelled as a Boy Scout, earning his first merit badge at the age of thirteen. He earned ten more badges that year. Many of these awards were typically won by the older scouts. [3]:32–33 He continued his success by obtaining four additional badges at the age of fourteen. [3]:33 He won four badges for each of the next two years, and had earned almost all the badges available at the time. After becoming an Eagle Scout, he managed to earn another ten merit badges, for which he was awarded the bronze and gold palms. [3]:33


Chaffee attended the Dickinson School in Grand Rapids. [2]:136 He graduated in the top fifth of his class from Central High School in 1953. [3]:43 Turning down a possible appointment to the United States Naval Academy at Annapolis, Maryland, he accepted a Naval Reserve Officers Training Corps (NROTC) scholarship, and in September 1953 enrolled at the Illinois Institute of Technology. He performed well, making the Dean's list and finishing with a B+ average. While enrolled, he joined Phi Kappa Sigma. [4]

Chaffee was passionate about flying, and had a strong aptitude for science and engineering. To apply those talents, he transferred to Purdue University in the autumn of 1954 to attend the school's well-known aeronautical engineering program. [4] Prior to his arrival in West Lafayette, he reported for an 8-week tour on USS Wisconsin as a part of the NROTC program. To qualify, he had to finish training and pass additional tests. He initially failed the eye exam, but the physician allowed him to retake the test the next morning, and he passed. He was then allowed to tour on Wisconsin to England, Scotland, France, and Cuba. Upon his return to American soil, he worked as a gear cutter. [4]

Upon starting classes at Purdue, Chaffee sought out a job to complement his coursework and involvement in the Phi Kappa Sigma social fraternity. His first job during his sophomore year was working as a server at one of the women's residences, but he disliked the job and sought new employment. He was hired as a draftsman at a local small business near Purdue. As a junior, he was hired as a teaching assistant in the Mathematics Department to teach classes to freshman students. [4] He also joined the Tau Beta Pi and Sigma Gamma Tau engineering honor societies. [5]

While at Purdue, Chaffee took flight training as part of the NROTC program to prepare himself for a career as a naval aviator, soloing on March 29, 1957, and obtaining his private pilot's license on May 24, 1957. [4] He earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Aeronautical Engineering at Purdue in 1957. [6]


Chaffee married Martha Louise Horn in Oklahoma City on August 24, 1957; they had met on a blind date in September 1955. [4] Martha was a homemaker. [3]:67 The couple had two children, Sheryl Lyn (born in 1958) and Stephen (born in 1961). [7]

Other Languages
Afrikaans: Roger B. Chaffee
беларуская: Роджэр Чафі
български: Роджър Чафи
català: Roger Chaffee
español: Roger Chaffee
français: Roger B. Chaffee
Հայերեն: Ռոջեր Չաֆի
italiano: Roger Chaffee
қазақша: Роджер Чаффи
latviešu: Rodžers Čeifī
Nederlands: Roger Chaffee
português: Roger Chaffee
română: Roger Chaffee
русский: Чаффи, Роджер
Simple English: Roger B. Chaffee
slovenčina: Roger Bruce Chaffee
српски / srpski: Роџер Чафи
українська: Роджер Чаффі