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Astronaut Deke Slayton during World War II

Astronaut Deke Slayton during World War II

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(1945) This World War II photograph shows future Astronaut Donald Deke K. Slayton (on right) and 1st Lt. Ed Steinman (on left) beside a Douglas A-26 bomber in the Pacific Theater of Operations during the summer of 1945. While the exact location is unknown, the photograph was most likely taken on Okinawa. 1st Lt. Slayton was one of only two NASA astronauts to fly combat missions during World War II. ..Slayton was born in 1924 in Sparta, Wisconsin, and joined the Army Air Force soon after high school. He completed flight training in April 1943, and spent a year in Europe as a B-25 pilot with the 340th Bombardment Group, completing 56 combat missions. In 1944, he returned to the United States for a year before being assigned to Okinawa with the 319th Bombardment Group. As part of the first group to fly combat with the A-26 aircraft, he flew seven combat missions over Japan. ..Slayton logged more the 6,600 hours of flying time, including 5,100 in jet aircraft. He was named as one of the seven Mercury astronauts in April 1959 and was scheduled to pilot the Mercury- Atlas 7 mission, but a heart condition prevented him from flying. After years of work as the Coordinator of Astronaut Activities and Director of Flight Crew Operations, he was again declared fit to fly in March 1972. Three years later he participated in the Apollo-Soyuz Test Project as the Apollo docking module pilot. While he did not fly again, he continued to work for NASA until 1982 in a variety of capacities. He died on June 13, 1993.



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