Jack Swigert
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Jack Swigert
Jack Swigert
Jack Swigert- Apollo 13.jpg
Swigert in April 1970
Member-elect of the
U.S. House of Representatives
from Colorado's 6th district

Died before taking office
Constituency established
Daniel Schaefer
Personal details
John Leonard Swigert Jr.

August 30, 1931
Denver, Colorado, U.S.
DiedDecember 27, 1982(1982-12-27) (aged 51)
Washington D.C., U.S.
Resting placeMount Olivet Cemetery,
Wheat Ridge, Colorado
Political partyRepublican
ParentsJohn L. Swigert, M.D.
Virginia Swigert
Alma materUniversity of Colorado,
B.S. 1953
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, M.S. 1965
University of Hartford,
MBA 1967
OccupationFighter pilot, test pilot, astronaut
Military service
Allegiance United States
Branch/serviceU.S. Air Force (1953-1956)
Years of service1953-1965
RankUS-O3 insignia.svg Captain
Jack Swigert.jpg
AwardsPresidential Medal of Freedom NASA Distinguished Service Medal.jpg
Space career
NASA astronaut
Time in space
5d 22h 54m
Selection1966 NASA Group 5
MissionsApollo 13
Mission insignia
Apollo 13-insignia.png
RetirementAugust 1977 [1]

John Leonard Swigert Jr. (August 30, 1931 - December 27, 1982) was an American test pilot, mechanical and aerospace engineer, United States Air Force pilot, and NASA astronaut. He was one of twenty-four astronauts who have flown to the Moon.[2][3]

Before joining NASA in 1966, Swigert was a civilian test pilot and fighter pilot in the Air National Guard. After leaving NASA, he was elected to Congress from Colorado's new 6th district, but died before being sworn in.

Early life

John Leonard Swigert Jr. was born on August 30, 1931 in Denver, Colorado to parents John Leonard Sr. and Virginia Swigert. Swigert's father was an ophthalmologist.[2][3] At the age of 14, he became fascinated by aviation. While he would have been content just watching planes take off from nearby Combs Field, young Jack became determined to do more than be a spectator. He took on a newspaper route to earn money for flying lessons, and by age 16 he was a licensed private pilot.[4] He attended Blessed Sacrament School, Regis Jesuit High School, and East High School, from which he graduated in 1949.[1]

Swigert received a Bachelor of Science degree in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Colorado in 1953, where he also played football for the Buffaloes.[2][3] He later earned a Master of Science degree in Aerospace Engineering from the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (Hartford campus) in 1965, and a Master of Business Administration degree from the University of Hartford in 1967; and was presented an Honorary Doctorate of Science degree from American International College in 1970, and an Honorary Doctorate of Laws degree from Western State University in 1970, and an Honorary Doctorate of Science from Western Michigan University in 1970.[1]

His recreational interests included golf, handball, bowling, skiing, swimming, and basketball. His hobbies included photography.[1]

He was a member of the Boy Scouts of America and attained the rank of Second Class Scout.[5][6]

Flight experience

Swigert, at right, with the "mailbox" rig improvised to adapt the Apollo 13 command module's square carbon dioxide scrubber cartridges to fit the lunar module, which took a round cartridge

Following his graduation from Colorado in 1953, Swigert joined the U.S. Air Force. Upon graduation from the Pilot Training Program and Gunnery School at Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada, he was assigned as a fighter pilot in Japan and Korea. In 1953, he survived his plane crashing into a radar unit on a Korean airstrip.[4][3]

After completing his tour of active duty in the Air Force, he served as a jet fighter pilot with the Massachusetts (1957-1960) and Connecticut Air National Guard (1960-1965).[1] Swigert held a position as engineering test pilot for North American Aviation before joining NASA. He was previously an engineering test pilot for Pratt & Whitney, from 1957 to 1964.[1]

He logged over 7,200 hours in flight, with more than 5,725 in jet aircraft.[1]

NASA career

After unsuccessfully applying for NASA's second and third astronaut selections,[7] Swigert was accepted into the NASA Astronaut Corps as part of NASA Astronaut Group 5 in April 1966.[8] Swigert became a specialist on the Apollo command module: he was one of the few astronauts who requested to be command module pilots.[7]

Apollo 13

Swigert was one of three astronauts aboard the Apollo 13 Moon mission launched April 11, 1970. Originally part of the backup crew for the mission, he was assigned to the mission three days before launch, replacing astronaut Ken Mattingly. The prime crew had been exposed to German Measles (the rubella virus) from Charles Duke and, because Mattingly had no immunity to the disease, NASA did not want to risk his falling ill during critical phases of the flight.[1]

The mission was the third crewed lunar-landing attempt, but was aborted after the rupture of an oxygen tank in the spacecraft's service module. Swigert was the astronaut who made the dramatic announcement, "Houston, we've had a problem here".[9] The statement was then repeated by Commander of the flight Jim Lovell. Swigert, along with fellow astronauts Lovell and Fred Haise, traveled around the Moon and returned safely to Earth on April 17 after about 5 days and 23 hours, and received the Presidential Medal of Freedom the next day.[10]

Apollo-Soyuz Test Project

Swigert was slated to be the command module pilot for the Apollo-Soyuz Test Project, but was later removed from the crew rotation due to his involvement in the Apollo 15 postal covers incident.[4]

Post-NASA career

Swigert took a leave of absence from NASA in April 1973 to become executive director of the Committee on Science and Astronautics, U.S. House of Representatives.[11]

Swigert eventually left NASA and the committee in August 1977 to enter politics. He ran for the U.S. Senate in 1978, but was soundly defeated in the Republican primary in September by congressman Bill Armstrong.[12] In 1979, Swigert became vice president of B.D.M. Corporation in Golden.[1] He left in 1981 to join International Gold and Minerals Limited as vice president for financial and corporate affairs.[13]

In February 1982, Swigert left International Gold and Minerals Limited to run for U.S. Congress in the new 6th district as a Republican. On November 2, 1982, he won the seat with 64% of the popular vote.[1]


I believe God measures your life. He puts you on Earth, gives you talents and certain opportunities, and, I think, you're going to be called to account for those opportunities.

Jack Swigert before his death, about life and God.[4]

In 1982, during his political campaign, Swigert developed a malignant tumor in his right nasal passage. He underwent surgery, but the cancer spread to his bone marrow and lungs.[14] On December 19, seven weeks after the election, he was airlifted from his home in Littleton to Georgetown University Hospital in Washington, D.C., and died of respiratory failure at its Lombardi Cancer Center on December 27, seven days before the beginning of his congressional term.[7][15] He was 51. He is buried in Mount Olivet Cemetery in Wheat Ridge, Colorado.[16]


Swigert was a member of numerous organizations. He was a fellow of the American Astronautical Society; associate fellow of the Society of Experimental Test Pilots and the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics; and member of the Quiet Birdmen, Phi Gamma Delta, Pi Tau Sigma, and Sigma Tau.[1]

Awards and honors

Jack Swigert


See also


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s "John L. Swigert Jr., NASA Astronaut (Deceased)". NASA JSC. Retrieved 2017.
  2. ^ a b c Eicher, Diane (December 19, 1982). "Ex-astronaut's challenge". Beaver County Times. (Denver Post). p. B2.
  3. ^ a b c d Treaster, Joseph B. (December 29, 1982). "Jack Swigert, astronaut elected to Congress, dies". New York Times. Retrieved 2018.
  4. ^ a b c d Carney, Emily (April 29, 2014). "For Jack Swigert, On His 83rd Birthday". AmericaSpace. Retrieved 2017.
  5. ^ John L. Swigert Jr. at scouting.org Archived March 4, 2016, at the Wayback Machine
  6. ^ "Astronauts with Scouting experience". US Scounting Service. August 26, 2012.
  7. ^ a b c Chaikin, Andrew. A Man on the Moon. Penguin Books Ltd. ISBN 978-0-14-024146-4.
  8. ^ Thompson, Ronald (April 5, 1966). "19 New Spacemen Are Named". The High Point Enterprise. High Point, North Carolina. p. 2A – via Newspapers.com.
  9. ^ "Jim Lovell's written account of the mission attributes the quote to Swigert". History.nasa.gov. 1970-04-11. Retrieved 2018.
  10. ^ "Remarks on Presenting the Presidential Medal of Freedom to Apollo 13 Astronauts in Honolulu". The American Presidency Project. Retrieved 2017.
  11. ^ a b "Jack Swigert inducted into the International Space Hall of Fame". New Mexico Museum of Space History. Retrieved 2017.
  12. ^ "Primaries kind to most incumbents". Deseret News. (Salt Lake City, Utah). UPI. September 13, 1978. p. A-1.
  13. ^ Ringle, Ken (December 29, 1982). "Rep.-Elect Swigert Dies". The Washington Post. Retrieved 2018.
  14. ^ "Ex-astronaut faces battles". Wilmington Morning Star. Associated Press. October 23, 1982. p. 2A.
  15. ^ "Jack Swigert loses fight against cancer". Ocala Star-Banner. Associated Press. December 28, 1982. p. 4D.
  16. ^ "Ex-astronaut gets eulogized". Victoria Advocate. Associated Press. January 5, 1983. p. 10D.
  17. ^ "Heroes of Apollo 13 Welcomed by President and Loved Ones". The Philadelphia Enquirer. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Associated Press. April 19, 1970. p. 1 – via Newspapers.com.
  18. ^ Sauro, William E. (June 4, 1970). "Mayor Honors Apollo 13 Crew at Lincoln Center". The New York Times. p. 27.
  19. ^ "Apollo 13 Astronauts Made Honorary WMU Alums". scholarworks.wmich.edu. Retrieved 2019.
  20. ^ Sheppard, David (October 2, 1983). "Space Hall Inducts 14 Apollo Program Astronauts". El Paso Times. El Paso, Texas. p. 18 – via Newspapers.com.
  21. ^ Holmes, Charles W., Editor, Honoree Album of the Colorado Aviation Hall of Fame, The Colorado Aviation Historical Society, 1999, Audubon Media Corp., Audubon, IA.
  22. ^ "Apollo 13 (1995)". IMDb. Retrieved 2017.
  23. ^ "U.S. Capitol Visitor Center Statues". Visitthecapitol.gov. Retrieved .
  24. ^ "Jack Swigert inducted into the U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame". Astronaut Scholarship Foundation. Retrieved 2017.
  25. ^ Meyer, Marilyn (October 2, 1997). "Ceremony to Honor Astronauts". Florida Today. Cocoa, Florida. p. 2B – via Newspapers.com.
  26. ^ "RPI Alumni Hall of Fame: John L. Swigert Jr". Rpi.edu. Retrieved .
  27. ^ "Symposium Awards". National Space Symposium. Archived from the original on February 3, 2009. Retrieved 2017.
  28. ^ "Jack Swigert Aerospace Academy Opens". Space Foundation. Retrieved .

External links

  This article uses material from the Wikipedia page available here. It is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.



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