Seven astronauts will forever be remembered as the fallen crew of space shuttle Columbia. And Lubbock is pledging to remember two of it's own-Texas Tech graduate Rick Husband and Coronado High School track star Willie McCool. For Colonel Rick Husband, his Air Force career began at Texas Tech.
"This is how he joined the Air Force as he came through Air Force ROTC and became commissioned as a second lieutenant in the Air Force through the ROTC program," says ROTC Cadet Colonel, Reed Bond.
In a special ceremony Thursday night, Tech's Air Force ROTC held a vigil in honor of the crew and fellow airman, Rick Husband. "The commander of that space shuttle was Colonel Rick Husband who was an alumni of this program not only of Texas Tech, but ROTC here," says Bond.
Meanwhile, at Coronado High School, a tribute to alum Willie McCool is displayed year-round. "They took photos, photocopies out of the annual that he was in when he was a senior and a junior," says Associate Principal, Cindy Wallace.
The snapshots catalog McCool's journey from student, to astronaut to, American hero. One photo arrived at Coronado Friday morning. It was developed from a roll of film found among Columbia's wreckage. "People have sent us stuff it's just incredible," says Wallace.
From Lubbock and beyond, these fallen astronauts are being remembered for the mission that has changed space travel forever. "The risks have always been serious and the difference between triumph and tragedy in so much of what we do is a very narrow line and this was a constant reminder of that. What's important is we not forget it, not ever forget," says NASA Administrator, Sean O'Keefe.
On February 6th NewsChannel 11, will hear from the Husband family and how they've coped through this tragedy.