Flash Fire Kills Apollo 1 Astronauts Grissom, White and Chaffee
Apollo 1 Astronauts Ed White, Gus Grissom and Roger Chaffee (Photo from NASA website)
Friday evening, January 27, 1967, fifty years ago today, the country was rocked by the news of the Apollo 1 command module fire at Cape Kennedy.* Astronauts Virgil "Gus" Grissom, Roger Chaffee and Edward White lost their lives in a flash fire that was exacerbated by the oxygen rich atmosphere inside the command module.
Lt. Col. Gus Grissom, USAF, was one of the original seven Mercury astronauts, having been America's second man in space in 1961. Lt. Col. Edward White, USAF, was a crew member of Gemini 4. On June 3, 1965, he became the first American to walk in space. Lt. Cmdr. Roger Chaffee, USN, a test pilot, served as capsule communicator (CAPCOM) for Gemini 3 in March 1965.
The Apollo program continued despite the tragedy, culminating in the July 20, 1969 moon landing of Apollo 11 crew members Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin. The final moon landing, Apollo 17 in late 1972, was manned by Eugene Cernan, Harrison Schmitt and Ronald Evans. Gene Cernan, the last man to walk on the moon thus far, passed away last week on January 16th.
Lieutenant Danny O'Connell and his Platoon 4 crew at 3's were photographed repacking the 2-1/2" onto Engine 3, one of the two 1968 Maxim S models. Ff. Sam Jones on the back step and Ff. Doug Yocher in the bed are assisted by an unidentified firefighter, possibly Ff. Bill Davin.
Note that the hose bed is not yet split. Three inch hose didn't make the scene in the HFD until about a year after this 1972 photo was taken.
The photo was obviously taken during warmer weather. But how might some of the retirees and old-timers who are still on the job know that this photo was not taken during June, July or August? There is a clue (and it ain't the foliage).
The Ridge Hill Elementary School on Carew Road opened in January 1971, replacing the old State Street School that was built around 1920. These photos were taken during a final check of the alarm system at the school just before it opened.
At right, Superintendent of Alarms & Apparatus Richard Lostritto and Chief V. Paul Leddy inspect one of the Gamewell pull stations hooked into Box 825.
In the photo below, Fire Marshal Bob "Bubby" O'Donnell, Chief Leddy and Supt. Lostritto inspect one of the school hallways.
Ridge Hill School was officially dedicated on April 29, 1971 with the help of America's first man in space, Astronaut Alan Shepard. As commander of Apollo 14, Capt. Shepard (USN), a WWII veteran, had walked on the moon just three months earlier. He was promoted to rear admiral four months after his Hamden visit.
Ridge Hill School was the first Hamden elementary school of the "open classroom" design. Others would follow, including Shepherd Glen and West Woods.
The 1971-72 Hamden Town Report contained excerpts from a very lengthy report authored by Hamden's controversial Superintendent of Schools, Dr. Frank Yulo, extolling the virtues of open classrooms and team teaching for Hamden's elementary school children. "This administration places trust in the collective judgment of informed people and believes that several persons pooling their attitudes, perceptions, knowledges and skills can accomplish more for the common good by working together than they can accomplish working alone or individually . . . "
Many parents of Hamden's school children objected to Dr. Yulo's open classroom concept, perhaps owing to the notion promulgated in his report that they were not considered to be among "the informed people" whose collective judgment was being praised. Talking down to regular folks is usually resented, and rightfully so.
Fire Marshal O'Donnell, Chief Leddy and Supt. Lostritto (CLICK to enlarge)
April 1971 - Mayor William Adams greets Astronaut Capt. (USN) Alan Shepard during Ridge Hill School dedication (CLICK to enlarge)
In the photo below, construction of Hamden's first cab-forward apparatus at Maxim Motors appears to be progressing. With various trim pieces already mounted to the body, it would seem that the pumper has acquired its final coat of white paint. Yet it appears that some last minute bodywork is being performed on small areas of the cab. A repaint awaits, maybe? Hmmmm. (Oh well, they'll never know.)
The pumper was delivered in July of 1959 and went in service the following month.
Photo from collection of Chief Paul Wetmore, Sr., courtesy of D/C Gary Mewede