MICHAEL J. SMITH, CDR, USN

From USNA Virtual Memorial Hall

Michael Smith '67

Date of birth: April 30, 1945

Date of death: January 28, 1986

Age: 40

Lucky Bag

From the 1967 Lucky Bag:


Loss

Mike was pilot of the Space Shuttle Challenger when it was destroyed on January 28, 1986.

From the April 1986 issue of Shipmate:

Cdr. Michael John Smith USN was killed in the explosion which destroyed the space shuttle Challenger at Cape Canaveral, Florida on 28 January 1986. The accident, which was witnessed by millions viewing the lift-off on national TV, took the lives of all seven crew members aboard Challenger.

Commander Smith and his fellow astronauts were honored at a memorial service held in Houston, Texas, on 31 January; that service was attended by President and Mrs. Reagan. "For those who knew you well and loved you," the President said, "the pain will be deep and enduring. A nation, too, will long feel the loss of her seven sons and daughters...."

A memorial service for Commander Smith was also held that same day at the Naval Academy Chapel and was attended by the Brigade, and Navy people in the Annapolis area.

Born in North Carolina, Commander Smith was appointed to the Naval Academy from that state and graduated with the Class of 1967. He also earned a master's degree from the Postgraduate School in Monterey, Calif.

Following a combat cruise in Vietnam, he trained as a test pilot at Patuxent River. In 1980, six years after completing Test Pilot School, he was selected as an astronaut. The ill-fated Challenger Flight was his first space mission.

He is survived by his wife, the former Jane Jarrell of Charlotte, N.C., and their three children, Scott, 17, Allison, 14, and Erin, 8.

Recognition

He was posthumously awarded the Congressional Space Medal of Honor in 2004, along with all crew members lost in the Challenger and Columbia accidents. He also received the Defense Distinguished Service Medal (posthumous), the Navy Distinguished Flying Cross, 3 Air Medals, 13 Strike/Flight Air Medals, the Navy Commendation Medal with "V" Device, the Navy Unit Citation, and the Vietnam Cross of Gallantry with Silver Star.

Memorials

The Michael J. Smith Field airfield in his home town of Beaufort, North Carolina is named after Smith.

The United States Naval Academy lists the "Class of 1967 Captain Michael J. Smith, USN, Award" as one of the Academy-wide prizes and awards; it is administered by the Aerospace Engineering section.

Additional Reading

Mike's Wikipedia entry.

Related Articles

John Martin '67 and Hal Castle, Jr. '67 were also in 35th Company.

Memorial Hall Error

Mike is in Memorial Hallas CDR; "He was promoted posthumously by Congress to the rank of Captain".


Class of 1967

Michael is one of 34 members of the Class of 1967 in Memorial Hall.