Naval History and Heritage Command

Naval History and Heritage Command

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Adapted from "Lientenant Commander Roger B. Chaffee, United States Navy, Deceased" [biography, dated 7 April 1967] in Modern Officer Biographies Collection, Naval History and Heritage Command Archives, Washington Navy Yard.

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Roger Bruce Chaffee

15 February 1935 - 27 January 1967

NHHC Archives Astronaut Files

Roger Chaffee was a member of the Naval ROTC at Purdue University and graduated in 1957.  He was commissioned as an Ensign upon graduation and assigned temporary duty with the Naval Air Force Asiatic Fleet.  He began Naval Air Basic Training in October 1958 and soon after was designated a Naval Aviator.  Between August 1958 and February 1959 he received further training.  Chaffee was awarded the Navy Air Medal for his service as a quality control and safety officer with Heavy Photographic Squadron 62 between 4 April 1960 and 25 October 1962.  In October 1963 NASA selected Chaffee as an astronaut.  With NASA, Chaffee participated in the regular training program, but also worked on flight control communication systems along with attitude and translation control systems for the Apollo program.  NASA chose Chaffee as one of three pilots for the Apollo program’s first three man-orbital mission, Apollo I.  A flash fire in the Apollo Saturn 204 test vehicle during a simulated launch at Kennedy Space Center took Chaffee’s life on 27 January 1967.  His fellow crew members, Edward Higgins White II and Virgil Gus Grissom also died in the accident.  He was buried in Arlington National cemetery and posthumously awarded the Congressional Space Medal of Honor and a second Navy Air Medal.

Full Biography [Text Version] [Original .pdf]

Published: Mon Mar 07 08:25:31 EST 2016