Astronaut James McDivitt, Others Inducted Into Aerospace Walk of Honor

Retired NASA Apollo program astronaut James McDivitt was inducted into the Aerospace Walk of Honor in Lancaster City, Calif. on Sept. 19, 2009. McDivitt, who commanded the Gemini IV mission in 1965 and the Apollo 9 mission in 1969, was one of five former test pilots and astronauts honored at the 20th induction ceremonies.

Retired NASA Apollo program astronaut James McDivitt (right) is presented with a medal by Ron Smith, vice-mayor of the City of Lancaster, Calif., at the city’s Aerospace Walk of Honor induction ceremonies Sept. 19McDivitt was joined at the induction ceremony by retired NASA astronaut Gordon Fullerton, Apollo 17 commander Gene Cernan, NASA Dryden acting deputy director Gwen Young and Ron Smith, vice-mayor of the City of Lancaster, Calif. Cernan was the featured speaker during the ceremony.

Following the induction ceremony, McDivitt and the group wielded shovels in front of the Lancaster Performing Arts Center to plant a commemorative moon tree. The sycamore sapling is a second-generation descendant of sycamore trees that were germinated from seeds that were flown on the Apollo 14 moon mission in 1971. This moon tree joins dozens of other trees now growing at state capitols, university campuses, and other select locations across the nation.

McDivitt commanded the first American space walk mission during Gemini IV, and later during Apollo 9, he oversaw the first tests of the Lunar Module in orbit around Earth. Joining the Air Force in 1959, he started as a student test pilot. McDivitt quickly climbed through various positions and programs before being selected as an astronaut in 1962.

A graduate of the US Air Force Experimental Test Pilot School and member of the Society of Experimental Test Pilots, he has been honored with many awards highlighting his accomplishments, including two NASA Distinguished Service Medals, four Distinguished Flying Crosses, five Air Medals, the NASA Exceptional Service Medal, two Air Force Distinguished Service Medals, induction into the U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame and the International Space Hall of Fame. McDivitt now joins the 93 other honorees in the Aerospace Walk of Honor.

Retired NASA astronaut Gordon Fullerton, Vice-Mayor of Lancaster City, CalifEstablished in 1990 by the Lancaster City Council, the Aerospace Walk of Honor runs along Lancaster Boulevard through the city where each inductee is memorialized with a granite pillar that recognizes the important contributions of each individual who 'soared above the rest.'

Lancaster City is near both Edwards Air Force Base and the NASA Dryden Flight Research Center making it a hotbed of aviation activity. Dryden Flight Research Center has been the home of NASA’s high performance aircraft research since it’s founding.

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