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City's Jack R. Lousma Selected As Astronaut

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By David Bishop

An Ann Arbor man, Marine Capt. Jack R. Lousma, and two other University graduates were among the 19 men named yesterday to America's newest class of astronauts.

Lousma, a 1954 graduate of Ann Arbor High School, and a 1959 graduate of the U-M, is the son of Jacob Louwsma, 2 Marshall Ct.

Lousma's father, who changed the spelling of the family name after Jack's birth to make is easier to pronounce, was visiting Jack in Cherry Point when the news came.

The two other U-M graduates are Air Force Capt. Alfred M. Worden, a native of Jackson, and Air Force Maj. James B. Irwin, a native of Pittsburgh, Pa.

Lousma, Worden and Irwin earned degrees at the U-M department of aeronautical engineering. they were selected by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration from 351 applicants.

The three men and the 16 other rookie astronauts will begin training in May for voyages that will take some, and perhaps all of them, to landings on the moon aboard Apollo spaceships.

Lousma, stationed at Cherry Point Marine Air Station, N.C., was out on a routine flying mission when his selection was announced yesterday.

"Maybe it was a good thing I was," Lousma said later. "As soon as I came in they were congratulating me and everyone was excited. It really made me feel humble."

"He was quite excited," the new astronaut said of his father 's reaction. Lousma's younger brother, Don, 13, was also visiting with his father.

The 30-year Marine pilot said his wife , the former Gratia Kay Smeltzer of Ann Arbor, shared his enthusiasm for the nation's space program.

"We just felt this was the next logical step for me," Lousma said, "and I applied five or six months ago."

Lousma's oldest brother, Jim, 18, spoke for the family in Ann Arbor.

"We're not too surprised," the U-M freshman said. Asked about his feelings concerning Jack's possible flight to the moon, he said: "That would be nice – but the moon's pretty far away."

Also at home in Ann Arbor was another brother, David, 17. Lousma has a sister, Mrs. Marvin Gertz, who now lives in Jackson. Mrs. Lousma is deceased. Jack and his wife, Gratia, have a son, Timothy, 2.

Pride filled Ann Arbor High School today when is was learned that Lousma had been selected for the astronaut program.

"We're tremendously proud to have an Ann Arbor High School graduate selected for the Apollo team," said Principal Nicholas Schreiber.

"An honor of this kind coming to one of our outstanding students is something we feel proud about," the principal said.

Schreiber, who knew Lousma "very well," remembers Jack as an outstanding athlete, scholar, and popular leader of his classmates. I would say he had that unusual combination of fine characteristics that we find just occasionally," he said.

Lousma's high school record reads like that of the mythical all-American boy.

In athletics he earned letters in football, basketball and baseball. He was captain and tailback of the 1953 Ann Arbor High football team which was generally selected as the state's best. He was also that team's elected most valuable player.

In 1953 he was an all-state football honorable mention choice. The 1952 football team Lousma played on was an undefeated conference champion. 

Academically, he graduated from the Ann Arbor High School with the ranking of 26th in the class iof 358. He was elected president of his homeroom several times at Ann Arbor High, and at one time plyed the trombone in the band.

A member of Grace Bible Church, Lousma worked part-time at a local shoe store while he attended school.

His permanent record at Ann Arbor High has this description: "Jack has been an outstanding student and leader in his class during his three years at Ann Arbor High School. He is an unusually fine person. He is an excellent leader and very popular with his classmates."

Lousma entered the U-M Literary College in 1954-55, and later transferred to the College of Engineering where he earned a bachelor's degree in aeronautical engineering in 1959.

He graduated from the U-M 15th out of a class of 75 students in aeronautical engineering, and stood 155th out of 607 students in the College of Engineering.

Prof. Wilber C. Nelson, chairman of the department of aeronautical engineering, recalled Lousma as a "superior student."

He had mostly A's and B's as a student here," Nelson said.

Outside the classroom, Lousma continued to excel in athletics at the U-M. He earned letters in varsity baseball and football and was awarded the Yost Memorial Award for his athletic and academic talents.

He was a quarterback on the U-M football teams, and measured six feet tall, 195 pounds, a big man for the astronaut program.

While at the U-M he was a member of the Vulcan Honorary Engineering Society, and for three years held a Regents Alumni Scholarship.

Lousma entered the Marine Corps ROTC unit at the U-M in 1957, and was commissioned a second lieutenant upon his graduation.

Lousma seemed to excel in all fields. A carrier boy for The News at one time, he was presented the Outstanding Carrier Award in 1948.

He was born Feb. 29 1936, leap year, in Grand Rapids. His family moved to Ann Arbor in 1941. The appointment of Lousma, Worden and Irwin to the astronaut program makes a total of six U-M alumni to take part in this country's manned space flight efforts.

Lt. Col. James A. McDivitt and Lt. Col. Edward H. White II performed the historic space walk on their Gemini 4 mission, and Maj. David Scott was a member of the Gemini 8 team.

University President Harland Hatcher said: "We at the University are most pleased to be informed that three more of our engineering alumni have been selected as astronauts in the United States space program. We extend our warm congratulations to astronauts Irwin, Lousma and Worden and our best wishes for continued success as they enter the space program."

Worden earned a masters degree in aeronautical engineering at the U-M in 1963. His departmental advisor, Prof. Robert M. Howe, said he was a "very dedicated guy and was extremely interested in getting into the astronaut program. He is very personable and presents himself well," Howe said.

Irwin earned a masters degree in aeronautical engineering from the U-M in June, 1957, and a masters degree in instrumentation engineering in August, 1957. The later degree is a program offered in the department of aeronautical engineering.

Howe said Irwin "was a in our guided missile program and was quite interested in piloting." Irwin came to the U-M as an Air Force officer, Howe said.

The other new astronauts, in addition to Lousma, Worden and Irwin, are:

–Vance D. Brand, 34, civilian, born Longmont, Colo. Lockheed test pilot at the Flight Test Center, Istres, France.

–Lt. John S. Bull, 31, Navy, born Memphis, Tenn. test pilot from the Patuxent River, Md., Naval Air Station.

–Maj. Gerald P. Carr, 32, Marine, born Denver, Colo., assigned Marine Station, Santa Ana, Calif.

–Capt. Charles M. Dukee Jr., 30, Air Force, born Charlotte, N.C., instructor Edwards Air Force Base.

–Capt. Joe H. Engle, 33, Air Force, born Abilene, Kan., project pilot for X15 rocket plane program, Edwards Air Force Base.

–Lt. Cmdr. Ronald E. Evans, 32, Navy, born St. Francis, Kan., presently on sea duty in the Pacific.

–Maj. Edward G. Givens Jr., 36, Air Force, born Quanah, Tex., assigned to the Manned Spacecraft Center as project officer for the Gemini 9 space walk maneuvering unit.

–Fred W. Haise Jr., 32, civilian, born Biloxi, Miss., currently a NASA project pilot at the Flight Research Center, Edwards Air Force Base.

–Don L. Lund, 35, civilian, born Murray, Utah, physicist with the Goddard Spaceflight Center, Silver Spring, Md.

–Lt. Thomas K. Mattingly, 30, Navy, born Chicago Ill., student at Aerospace Research Pilot School, Edwards Air Force Base. He is a bachelor.

–Lt. Bruce McCandless II, 28, Navy, born Boston, Mass., now working toward a doctorate in electrical engineering at Stanford University.

–Lt. Cmdr. Edgar D. Mitchell, 35, Navy, born Hereford, Tex., student at Aerospace Research Pilot School and doctor of science from Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

–Maj. William R. Pogue, 36, Air Force, born Okemah, Okla., instructor at Aerospace Research Pilot School.

–Capt. Stuart A. Roosa, 32, Air Force, born Durango, Colo., experimental test pilot at Edwards Air Force Base.

–John L. Sigert Jr., 34, civilian, born Denver, Colo., engineering test pilot for North American Aviation Inc. He is a bachelor.

–Lt. Cmdr. Paul J. Weitz, 33, Navy, born Erie, Pa., squadron operations officer, Oak Harbor, Wash.