NORTH MANCHESTER — On Monday, May 13, the North Manchester Historical Society will welcome Ray E. Boomhower to present his program, “Fire in the Spacecraft: Gus Grissom and the Apollo 1 Disaster.” The program will be held in the Assembly Room at Timbercrest Retirement Center, 2201 East Street, at 6:30 p.m. It is open to the public at no cost.
Ray E. Boomhower is senior editor of the Indiana Historical Society Press, where he is responsible for the popular history magazine, “Traces of Indiana and Midwestern History.”
Boomhower has been with the Society since 1987. A native of Mishawaka, Boomhower graduated from Indiana University in 1982 with degrees in Journalism and Political Science.
He received his master’s degree in U.S. History from Indiana University, in 1995. Before joining the Society staff, he worked in public relations for the Indiana State Museum, and as a reporter for two Indiana daily newspapers: the Rensselaer Republican and the Anderson Herald.
In 1998, he received the Hoosier Historian award from the Indiana Historical Society and in 2010, he was named winner of the Regional Author Award in the annual Eugene and Marilyn Glick Indiana Authors Awards.
In 2009, his book “Robert F. Kennedy and the 1968 Indiana Primary” was selected as the winner in the historical nonfiction category of the annual Best Books of Indiana contest. His books have also been finalists and received honors in the annual Benjamin Franklin Awards from the Independent Book Publishers Association and Foreword Review’s Book of the Year Awards.
Boomhower’s program will go into details about the unfortunate death of Gus Grissom. Grissom was an Air Force veteran and the commander of the Apollo 1. He was America’s second person in space in 1961. The Apollo program changed forever in January 1967, when a flash fire swept through the Apollo 1 command module during a launch rehearsal test.
Despite efforts from the ground crew, the three men inside died. Because of the Apollo 1 incident, NASA had to complete extensive redesigns before sending more men into space. The Apollo 1 fire was difficult, but the improvements in astronaut safety allowed NASA to complete the rest of the program without further fatalities. To this day NASA remembers the Apollo 1 incident every January in an annual Day of Remembrance.