Brad Bough requested Gus Grissom’s birthday become a county holiday

BEDFORD – On Tuesday morning, Lawrence County Veteran’s Affairs Officer Brad Bough requested the commissioner make Gus Grissom’s birthday a county holiday.

Brad Bough

Virgil I. “Gus” Grissom, the oldest of four children, was born in Mitchell, Indiana, on April 3, 1926. He graduated from Mitchell High School in 1944. Grissom would have been 98 this year.

Bough proposed making April 8th a county holiday in respect to Grissom.

Right to left Commissioners Dustin Gabhart, Wally Branham, Rodney Fish and Auditor Paula Stewart.

“My hang-up is that it will cost the county $35,00 to $40,000 to have a paid day off for county employees,” said Commissioner Dustin Gabhart. “I am not ready to make that decision to do that.”

“I don’t think that would be fair to the two other astronauts from our county,” added President Wally Branham. “If we did it for one, we should do it for all, which would cost the county more like $90,000 to $120,000.”

Right to left: Lawrence County astronauts Ken Bowersox, Charles White, and Gus Grissom.

In April 1959, NASA announced the selection of the country’s first seven astronauts. Gus Grissom was part of the “Mercury 7.” The goal of Project Mercury was to place a manned spacecraft in orbit and return that spacecraft safely to Earth.

As part of Project Mercury, Grissom became America’s second man in space on July 21, 1961, in a capsule named the “Liberty Bell 7.” A successful flight was followed by a dramatic ending when the capsule was lost at sea after splashdown. Although Grissom was safely retrieved from the water, the mishap forced NASA to rethink its recovery techniques.

Grissom’s next assignment was to oversee the design and then command the Gemini program’s first manned mission. The two primary goals of the Gemini program were to launch a two-man capsule designed to maneuver and work in space and to test plans, techniques, and equipment needed for a landing on the moon.

On March 23, 1965, the Gemini III launched with Grissom at the helm. The flight lasted five hours and completed three orbits around the Earth, traveling nearly 81,000 miles.

In February 1966, Grissom, Ed White, and Roger Chaffee were chosen as the crew for the Apollo I mission to the moon. On January 27, 1967, a flash fire broke out inside the command module during a test on the launch pad. Grissom, White, and Chaffee were trapped inside, unable to escape the blaze.

Grissom is buried at Arlington National Cemetery.