Hemphill, on the Fifteenth Anniversary

An insightful and touching recap of the 15th anniversary memorial events for the STS-107 crew of Space Shuttle Columbia. Jonathan Ward authored a book with former NASA launch director Mike Leinbach about the Columbia recovery and investigation. Below is Ward’s blog post looking back at the special reunion.

Bringing Columbia Home

I’m at a loss to describe what an incredibly powerful day we had in Hemphill, Texas, on this the fifteenth anniversary of the Columbia accident.

We spent Wednesday night at the Fin and Feather Resort on the Toledo Bend Reservoir six miles south of Hemphill. (This was the base for Navy salvage operations during the Columbia recovery.) The Sabine County Memorial Committee threw a nice Texas-style party for us in the resort’s convention center that evening.

Thursday morning began at a 7:45 service at Hemphill’s First Baptist Church. The service included a remembrance of the crew of STS-107 and the two men who perished during the recovery effort. Following that were tributes to the people of East Texas delivered by NASA officials: Gerry Schumann, who worked for four months in the recovery in Hemphill; Sean O’Keefe, former Administrator of NASA; Mike Leinbach, former Shuttle Launch Director; Ellen Ochoa, Director of…

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