Family of Fallen Astronaut Rick Husband Remember the Shuttle Columbia Tragedy
The Willie McCool track and field, renamed last October in memory of Coronado graduate and fallen astronaut. It's just one of many memorials across the nation, honoring the seven Columbia crew members. In Amarillo, the airport was renamed after Colombia pilot and Texas Tech Graduate, Rick Husband. As for the Husband family, it's a way to help keep Rick's memory alive.
"It was the longest worst day of my life. My children say mom there's no way that any day could be as bad as that one was," says wife of Rick Husband, Evelyn Husband.
On February 1, 2003, Evelyn Husband's heart stopped. She remembers precisely when it happened. "About 11 minutes out before they were to land it had already started disintegrating and we had no idea if it wasn't until about a minute out something was horrifically wrong. As the clock ticked down to zero and then it started counting up positive numbers again, I got that absolute pit in my stomach I knew something was very wrong," says Evelyn.
Over the past year, which it's hard to believe it's already been, the Husband's have coped with their private pain on a national stage. "I don't think it was until we arrived back in Houston later that afternoon that even I took on board it was a national event not just 'our' event," says Evelyn.
There are reflections on what might have been. "I just don't know I think about him and I think, 'Oh he was so young and I know he wanted to go up a number of more times," says Rick's mother, Jane Husband.
Reminiscence of youthful exuberance. "From the time he was 4-years-old. He told us "I'm gonna be an astronaut," says Jane.
And appreciation of the little things, that meant so much. "I had trouble learning how to land. By the time my hour was up Rick had taught me how to land an airplane and that's something I've never forgotten," says Rick's brother, Keith.
All intangible qualities, that have somehow been forged in steel. A commemorative statue, dedicated at the place where so many of Rick's dreams began,at what's now been named the Rick Husband Amarillo International Airport.
"This is where Rick learned to fly. I mean this is where Rick's flying started so I think it's such a tribute to name this airport after him. It's an airspace he knew extremely well. It's the first airspace he ever flew an airplane in so I think it's a huge tribute for Rick to be honored in this way," says Evelyn.
For Rick Husband, reaching for the stars wasn't a cliche, it was his job. Circling the earth in the void of space where the magnitude of God's creation is overwhelming. Rick Husband never made it back, staying instead in the heavens. It always was after all his second home.
Evelyn Husband has written a new book in honor of her husband, Rick, titled "High Calling."
Along with the naming of the track at Coronado, a scholarship fund has been set up in honor of Willie McCool.