Skip to primary navigation Skip to content
January 27, 2017

Ranking Member Johnson Introduces Apollo 1 Memorial Act on the 50th Anniversary of the Tragedy

(Washington, DC) – Today, Ranking Member Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX) is introducing the “Apollo 1 Memorial Act.” This bill establishes a memorial in Arlington Cemetery to honor the astronauts who died in the 1967 Apollo 1 spacecraft fire.

Ranking Member Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX) said, “The Nation’s success in human spaceflight is well documented. Unfortunately, success in human spaceflight has come at a high cost.  Brave men and women have paid the ultimate cost in the name of space exploration.

“On January 27, 1967, Astronauts Command Pilot Virgil I. “Gus” Grissom, Senior Pilot Edward H. White II, and Pilot Roger B. Chaffee were killed in an electrical fire that broke out inside their Apollo Command Module on Launch Pad 34 at the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida. Although all three astronauts were posthumously awarded the Congressional Space Medal of Honor, it is surprising that we do not have a memorial to honor the lives of the crew of Apollo 1 as was done for the Space Shuttle Challenger and Columbia crews.

“This bill would redress that unfortunate omission. It has been 50 years since the Apollo accident. We have the opportunity and a duty to honor these three brave men and their contribution to America’s preeminence in human spaceflight.  It is time to build a memorial so that current and future Americans never forget their sacrifice.”

General David F. Melcher (USA-RET.), President and CEO, Aerospace Industries Association, said, “A national memorial to the Apollo 1 crew on the hallowed ground of Arlington National Cemetery would serve as a fitting tribute from our nation to these three gallant men who served their country in military uniform and the uniform of NASA.”

Original cosponsors of the bill include Congressman Adam Smith (D-WA), Ranking Member of the Armed Services Committee; Congressman Tim Walz (D-MN), Ranking Member of the Veterans Affairs Committee; Congressman Bill Posey (R-FL); Congressman Jim Bridenstine (R-OK); Congressman Bill Foster (D-IL); Congressman Mark Takano (D-CA); Congressman Paul Tonko (D-NY); Congressman Hank Johnson (D-GA); Congressman Don Beyer (D-VA); Congressman Jim Langevin (D-RI); Congresswoman Katherine Clark (D-MA); Congresswoman Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR); Congresswoman Madeleine Bordallo (D-GU); Congressman Derek Kilmer (D-WA); Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren (D-CA); Congressman Gus Bilirakis (R-FL); Congressman Trey Hollingsworth (R-IN); Congressman Jim Cooper (D-TN); Congressman Ed Perlmutter (D-CO); and Congressman Bill Huizenga (R-MI).

Ranking Member Johnson is hopeful that more Members will sign on to this bill honoring these American heroes and that Congress will quickly pass this legislation.