Anniversary of shuttle disaster with ties to Lubbock - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

Anniversary of shuttle disaster with ties to Lubbock

PhotoSouce: AP PhotoSouce: AP

Wednesday is a somber anniversary. It marks 9-years since two astronauts with Lubbock ties died in the Columbia disaster.

Coronado High School graduate Willie McCool and Texas Tech graduate Rick Husband were both aboard that space shuttle. The shuttle broke apart during re-entry on February 1, 2003. All seven crew members died.

As a matter of fact the moment of decompression inside the shuttle was estimated to be over I27 located halfway between Lubbock and Plainview. The furthest west that any debris was found after the disaster was the garden outside a rural residence north of Littlefield.  

NASA grounded the shuttle program after the accident and launched an investigation. Ice damaged the heat tiles on the shuttle during launch. The damage is what led to the trouble that doomed the shuttle.

The investigation also revealed Willie McCool fought to fix the aircraft until the very end before the Columbia disintegration.

Willie's father, Barry says his son is a hero and he paid the ultimate price for space exploration. He recalls hearing NASA lose communication that day.

"They said ‘Columbia, this is Houston, hard copy'. ‘Columbia, Houston.' About that time the TV showed the starburst of the Columbia disintegrating overhead. I looked at Audrey and said Willie is gone," said Barry McCool.

Barry says his son followed in his Navy footsteps. He knew there was no guarantee he would come back.

He says each anniversary he and his wife lay flowers on their son's statue. The statue is located on 82nd and Quaker, its one place Willie's legacy will not be forgotten. Barry also wears Willie's astronaut wings, something his son never got a chance to do.

Video recovered from Hemphill, Texas shows the last moments of Willie's life. From time to time Barry will watch it.

"My last view of Willie is he going to hold up this mirror and you are going to see his face in the mirror," Barry said.

The space shuttle program officially ended in 2011. Barry hopes this does not discourage others to study math and science.

Copyright 2012 KCBD NewsChannel 11

  • Local News on KCBD.comNewsMore>>

  • Authorities: Suspected restaurant gunman had gun license

    Authorities: Suspected restaurant gunman had gun license

    Friday, May 25 2018 1:02 AM EDT2018-05-25 05:02:34 GMT
    Saturday, May 26 2018 2:26 AM EDT2018-05-26 06:26:11 GMT
    (Bryan Terry/The Oklahoman via AP). Jennifer Stong hugs Tasha Hunt outside the scene of a shooting on the east side of Lake Hefner in Oklahoma City, Thursday, May 24, 2018. Stong was inside the restaurant when the shooting occurred.(Bryan Terry/The Oklahoman via AP). Jennifer Stong hugs Tasha Hunt outside the scene of a shooting on the east side of Lake Hefner in Oklahoma City, Thursday, May 24, 2018. Stong was inside the restaurant when the shooting occurred.

    Police: Man armed with pistol shot and wounded two customers at Oklahoma City restaurant before being shot dead by handgun-carrying civilian in parking lot.

    Police: Man armed with pistol shot and wounded two customers at Oklahoma City restaurant before being shot dead by handgun-carrying civilian in parking lot.

  • Handcuffed Weinstein faces rape charge in #MeToo reckoning

    Handcuffed Weinstein faces rape charge in #MeToo reckoning

    Friday, May 25 2018 12:22 AM EDT2018-05-25 04:22:30 GMT
    Saturday, May 26 2018 2:24 AM EDT2018-05-26 06:24:15 GMT
    (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP, File). FILE - In this Jan. 8, 2017, file photo, Harvey Weinstein arrives at The Weinstein Company and Netflix Golden Globes afterparty in Beverly Hills, Calif. Law enforcement officials say Weinstein is expected to...(Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP, File). FILE - In this Jan. 8, 2017, file photo, Harvey Weinstein arrives at The Weinstein Company and Netflix Golden Globes afterparty in Beverly Hills, Calif. Law enforcement officials say Weinstein is expected to...

    Harvey Weinstein is expected to turn himself in to police in New York City early Friday following a seven-month investigation into sexual assault allegations.

    Harvey Weinstein is expected to turn himself in to police in New York City early Friday following a seven-month investigation into sexual assault allegations.

  • Exit polls suggest Irish voters have repealed abortion ban

    Exit polls suggest Irish voters have repealed abortion ban

    Friday, May 25 2018 2:32 AM EDT2018-05-25 06:32:46 GMT
    Saturday, May 26 2018 2:23 AM EDT2018-05-26 06:23:41 GMT
    (Clodagh Kilcoyne/PA via AP). Presiding officer Carmel McBride looks on as a woman casts her vote in the referendum on the 8th Amendment of the Irish Constitution, on Thursday May 24, 2018, a day early for the people that live off the coast of Donegal ...(Clodagh Kilcoyne/PA via AP). Presiding officer Carmel McBride looks on as a woman casts her vote in the referendum on the 8th Amendment of the Irish Constitution, on Thursday May 24, 2018, a day early for the people that live off the coast of Donegal ...

    Voters throughout Ireland have begun casting votes in a referendum that may lead to a loosening of the country's strict ban on most abortions.

    Voters throughout Ireland have begun casting votes in a referendum that may lead to a loosening of the country's strict ban on most abortions.

Powered by Frankly