Thomas P. Stafford (Lieutenant General, United States Air Force, Retired) NASA Astronaut was born Sept. 17, 1930, in Weatherford, Oklahoma. He received a Bachelor of science degree from the United States Naval Academy in 1952. In addition, General Stafford is the recipient of several honorary degrees. These include a doctorate of science from Oklahoma City University; a doctorate of communications, Emerson College, Boston, Massachusetts; a doctorate of aeronautical engineering, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, Daytona Beach, Florida; and a doctorate of humanities, Oklahoma Christian College, Edmond, Oklahoma. His military decorations and awards include the Distinguished Service Medal (Air Force design), Distinguished Flying Cross with one Oak Leaf Cluster, Air Force Commendation Medal, Air Force Outstanding Unit Award with one Oak Leaf Cluster, the NASA Distinguished Service Medal, and the NASA Exceptional Service Medal (twice).
General Stafford assumed command of the Air Force Flight Test Center Nov. 4, 1975. He was promoted to the grade of Major General Aug. 9, 1975, and to Lieutenant General on March 15, 1978. On May 1, 1978, he assumed the duties as Deputy Chief of Staff, Research Development and Acquisition, Headquarters United States Air Force, Washington, D.C. He retired from the Air Force on Nov. 1, 1979.
General Stafford was selected among the second group of astronauts in Sept. 1962 by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) to participate in Projects Gemini and Apollo. In December 1965, he was the pilot of Gemini VI, which was the first rendezvous in space, and helped in the development of techniques to prove the basic theory and practicality of space rendezvous. In June 1966, he was commander of Gemini IX. He logged his fourth space flight as Apollo commander of the Apollo-Soyuz Test Project mission. The event signaled a major advance in efforts for the conduct of joint experiments and the exchange of mutual assistance in future international space explorations.