Ohio ANG pilot part of famed Apollo 13 spaceflight
Story by Sgt. 1st Class Joshua Mann, Ohio National Guard Historian
On April 11, 1970, Apollo 13 launched from Kennedy Space Center in Florida with the mission of landing on the moon. The crew included lunar module pilot Fred Haise, a former fighter pilot with the Ohio Air National Guard’s 164th Tactical Fighter Squadron in Mansfield, Ohio. A native of Mississippi, Haise served in the squadron while he worked as a research pilot at NASA’s Lewis Research Center near Cleveland. Haise was a pilot in the squadron when it was called into federal service for the Berlin Crisis in 1961.
The Apollo 13 mission was scheduled to be the third lunar landing, which would have made Haise the sixth person to walk on the moon.
Haise was one of 19 astronauts selected for NASA Astronaut Group 5 in 1966. The Apollo 13 mission was scheduled to be the third lunar landing, which would have made Haise the sixth person to walk on the moon. However, the mission was aborted en route after an oxygen tank exploded and ruptured in the service module on April 14, which damaged the spacecraft. After the incident, the crew reported the now famous “Houston, we’ve had a problem.”
Haise and his fellow crew members, Jim Lovell and Jack Swigert, were able to return to Earth, splashing down in the South Pacific on April 17. Haise continued to work for NASA until 1979 and spent several years working on the development of the Space Shuttle program that defined the U.S. space program in the 1980s and ‘90s. In the 1995 film “Apollo 13,” directed by Ron Howard, Haise was portrayed by actor Bill Paxton.
Haise retuned to Mansfield after the Apollo 13 mission to present the 179th Tactical Fighter Group with a unit insignia patch that he carried with him on the flight. This upheld a promise he made to the unit before the mission.