James McDivitt, 1929 – 2022 {image via NASA}

Astronaut Brigadier General James McDivitt, who commanded Apollo 9 and Gemini IV, has died. He left us on October 13, 2022 at the age of 93. He was one of the first Americans to make a spacewalk. He and his colleague Ed White ((1930-1967) were the first Americans to go EVA in 1965, during the Gemini IV mission. Cosmonaut Alexei Leonov (1934-2019) had made the first space walk three months earlier.

During the Korean War, General McDivitt was a decorated combat pilot. He became a test pilot.

“His numerous awards included two NASA Distinguished Service Medals and the NASA Exceptional Service Medal. For his service in the U.S. Air Force, he also was awarded two Air Force Distinguished Service Medals, four Distinguished Flying Crosses, five Air Medals, and U.S. Air Force Astronaut Wings. McDivitt also received the Chong Moo Medal from South Korea, the U.S. Air Force Systems Command Aerospace Primus Award, the Arnold Air Society JFK Trophy, the Sword of Loyola, and the Michigan Wolverine Frontiersman Award.”

McDivitt the UFO Expert

During Gemini IV, McDivitt saw something he could not identify. People called it a UFO and McDivitt would later joke that he became “a world-renowned UFO expert.” Years later he figured it was just a reflection of bolts in the window.” In 1974, he guest starred on The Brady Bunch as himself in the episode “Out of This World,” He appeared as a guest on a talk show to discuss his “UFO experience,’ then signed autographs for Peter and Bobby Brady, who also thought they saw a UFO.

Although General McDivitt was not one of the twelve people to walk on the Moon, his mission as commander of Apollo 9 helped prepare for those brave lunar pioneers. Apollo 9 tested the lunar module, thereby securing the success of Apollo 11.

James McDivitt, 1929 – 2022 {image via NASA}

James Alton McDivitt was born June 10, 1929 in Chicago, Cook County, Illinois, USA. He died October 13, 2022,, in Tucson, Pima County, Arizona, USA. He passed away quietly in his sleep, surrounded by family and friends. Rest in peace, brave traveller. He grew up in Kalamazoo, Michigan. In 1959, McDivitt graduated from the University of Michigan with a B.S. in aeronautical engineering.

James A. McDivitt Elementary School in Old Bridge, New Jersy is named in his honor.

After his time as an astronaut, McDivitt became the Apollo spacecraft program manager from 1969 to 1972. After retiring from NASA and the Air Force, he became a business executive, working for Consumers Power Company, Pullman Standard Division, and Rockwell International.

General McDivitt was twice married, first to Patricia Ann Haas, with whom he had two sons and two daughters, and after their divorce, he remarried Judith Ann Odell, who provided him with two stepchildren from her first marriage. Our condolences to his family.

James A. McDivitt was a true STEM hero. He was a patriot and an explorer. Like many other astronauts, he was a Boy Scout in his younger days.

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Susan Macdonald
Susan Macdonald

Susan Macdonald is the author of the children’s book “R is for Renaissance Faire”, as well as short stories in “Alternative Truths”, “Swords and Sorceress #30”, “Supernatural Colorado”, “Barbarian Crowns”, “Cat Tails””Under Western Stars”, and “Knee-High Drummond and the Durango Kid”. Her articles have appeared on SCIFI.radio’s web site, in The Inquisitr, and in The Millington Star. She enjoys Renaissance Faires (see book above), science fiction conventions,  Highland Games, and Native American pow-wows.